Alexandria An Epicenter Of Egyptian Protests
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Beyond Cairo, traveling around Egypt is increasingly difficult. Flights are sporadic. Trains are mostly stopped, and traveling by road is no easier. The Egyptian army has shut down a lot of the highways, and many other roads have ad hoc checkpoints, some run by armed thieves.
NPR: And tell us about the journey.
SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: And then, it's strange because you get out into the countryside and it's almost like life is normal. I mean, you see farmers in the field. You see, you know, people doing construction or fixing the front of their storefronts. And the only thing that's different is that you see army personnel sort of enforcing, I guess, security or monitoring or whatever - I mean, their presence on the road.
SIEGEL: Well, on the way from Egypt to Alexandria on this road, did you see protests of any kind?
SARHADDI NELSON: Not a single one. I mean, you wouldn't know anything was amiss here when you sort of travel on the back roads, again, except for the sign that you have the army there, and there's no police presence.
SIEGEL: And in Alexandria itself, what's the situation?
SARHADDI NELSON: Once you get into the city, we did see some police officers in cars, but they're not out - the uniformed police anyway are not out on the street. And what you do have, though, are groups of pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters - small groups that sort of stop on the street, and they argue with each other. And they - small groups gather to protest at the Ibrahim Mosque, which is one of the main mosques here.
SIEGEL: But in Alexandria, has there been the equivalent of the Molotov cocktails and sounds of gunfire and mobs throwing rocks at each other around the city?
SARHADDI NELSON: One thing I should mention that is very noticeable, besides the fact that there's nobody on the streets after curfew, is the fact that the graffiti - the anti-Mubarak graffiti was marked up with red paint, particular words were taken out. For example, Mubarak leave, they took away the leave. So it was like just Mubarak. And there was another one saying the people want to try Mubarak, and basically, they took out the to try so that it was left as the people want Mubarak. So, obviously, pro-Mubarak people are going around changing the graffiti and seem to be out in the streets.
SIEGEL: Soraya, we've heard from Cairo about the threats - and often more than threats, real attacks on Western journalists. In Alexandria, are you experiencing that as well?
SARHADDI NELSON: Absolutely. Certainly, we're in the hotel here that has a lot of journalists, and there are some who are leaving. We met one, in fact, who is leaving tomorrow. It's definitely very much a very unfriendly and unwelcoming place.
SIEGEL: Soraya, thank you very much and take care.
SARHADDI NELSON: You're welcome, Robert. Thanks.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson speaking to us from Alexandria, Egypt.
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