THURSDAY UPDATE: John and Jeffery are in Istanbul now, taking advantage of the local beer, and the layers of a city going back to Byzantium:
So we have fled the country temporarily. We are currently refugees in Istanbul (not Constantinople) which offers all of the typical trappings of a refugee environment: stunning views, great food, a local beer, Ottoman history everywhere. The usual.
For the time being we are safe and sound. Depending on how the situation in Cairo progresses this week, we will either return to Egypt next week or set up camp in an undisclosed location until further notice (not the United States). The American University in Cairo plans to reopen next week and begin a new session the week after.
More at John's blog here.
I tried reaching John Martin's blog from Egypt, and sure enough, it's blocked, but if you type/paste 188.8.131.52 in your browser's address window, it will take you to a Google page that can circumvents the Egyptian block, and from there you can reach John's blog-- You Can't Make Mistakes If You Don't Know What You're Doing-- though comments are disabled. Anyway, forwarded from the suburbs of Cairo, dated January 26:
Situation update for those concerned about our safety
.... There were widespread protest demonstrations in Cairo yesterday and in about 10 other cities as well. They have continued tonight, but on a smaller scale. There was a good deal of violence at one point late in the evening yesterday when the police finally decided to clear out the occupied areas. Tear-gas, water cannons and rubber bullets were all used. There were no live rounds fired. There have been several deaths and in Cairo about 250 people were injured and are now hospitalized. This could well be the beginning of something huge here, not unlike what happened in Tunisia. There are reports of rumors coming in that the son of the President (and his perceived successor) has left the country and is presently in London. It is rumored that the First Lady has also left. These reports have been vehemently denied by the American Embassy and should probably be considered unlikely to have actually occurred.
It will be interesting to watch how the situation progresses, but it will be unlikely to cause any problems for us. This seems so far to be a primarily secular popular revolt instead of one lead by the Muslim Brotherhood or other politico-religious groups. It is unclear where exactly the organization is coming from though. The protesters are regular, working-class people seeking governmental reform and measures to relieve the grinding poverty that Egypt is experiencing.
Social media sites and some news sites are being blocked variously throughout the country. Twitter confirmed earlier that they were in fact blocked yesterday. People are using external proxies in order to circumvent the internet blockades and communicate with each other. This will likely lead to stronger measures undertaken to control the flow of information both to news outlets and to those involved in the demonstrations. There are rumors that mobile phone service is being cut off for known activists. There were reports last evening that mobile services were cut off in Tahrir Square in central Cairo.
We are quite safe at present in Maadi (a southern suburb/district of Cairo). The part of the city we live in is far from the action, and the likelihood of anything happening in this particular suburb/district is low considering that it is inhabited primarily by wealthier folks and expatriates. Regardless, we’re keeping our eyes and ears open and making only leaving the house when absolutely necessary. Some of our more foolhardy friends are headed downtown regularly to scope out what is happening. They are brave, but perhaps a little foolish. It is understandable though. This is an exciting time here.
I am paying pretty close attention to what is happening and I will keep all of you informed in the case that the situation changes, possibly necessitating our evacuation. In that extremely unlikely scenario, our plan is to catch whatever flight is available to somewhere in Europe and then regroup and figure out what to do next. We will be extremely grateful to our friends in the EU if they will be willing to take in refugees at such a time as it becomes a necessity....