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On any given Friday night in Zurich Arabic is a common language heard at this Asian restaurant. It’s where a dozen or so Swiss-Egyptians come to meet, talk about family, business, and of course Egyptian politics.
MAN 1: “We talk about each other’s personal things, about our kids, and we are kidding, we are making jokes, but if you are looking into the actual situation in Egypt, of course we talk about that. That is business number 1.”
None of these men wanted to give their names, but they readily offered their opinions. Most of them are Muslim, though at least two are Coptic Christians. Many are academics, doctors, engineers, businessmen. A common thought among all the guests on this night is how opaque Egypt’s political situation really is.
“If there was a situation that I can go, I would…I would go and share with them the revolution.”
MAN 2: “The things of the revolution are unclear. We don’t know who is manipulating who. We have a wave which tells there is an influence from outside, like countries which finance movements in a religion direction. And others who want to tell that the army wants to take the power.”
The views expressed at this table, over tea and bowls of noodles, remain political and secular, with not much concern for religious influence in a revolutionary Egypt. The Coptics here, and Muslims, are first and foremost eyeing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and how it wields its current control over Egyptian government.
MAN 3: “We are all worried about the whole situation in Egypt. We are all worried, and we want the best for Egypt. We love our country very much. If there was a situation that I can go, I would—I would go. I would go and share with them the revolution and do something.”
In many ways there is still an uncertainty around Egypt’s present and future: uncertainty for the ruling military council, uncertainty for the pronounced role of Islamist parties in Egyptian politics. And Despite the time and distance separating those in Switzerland from the revolution in Egypt the emotions are strong, and the concern is real.
It is enough to drive some men to return to Tahrir regularly to check in on the revolution, and to help the family living it day to day.