Saturday, April 23, 2011

When the Saints go marching in...

Salalah, Oman April 22-Yesterday we heard there would be protests. In the shower that morning I could hear a loudspeaker projecting someone who was getting very animated. We followed that noise (after I put on clothes-not straight from the shower) and ended up on a corner, watching the protestors rally. We cased the backside of the movement as we were white kids with big cameras…we stuck out jut a tad. As we moved in closer, the protestors started to march. A man advised us it was best we leave. He advised us in flawless English and without a heavy Arab accent. We had heard Oman’s internal security forces keep an eye on the protests in Sohar, and that one had spent some time stateside. With that information we moved away from him quickly.
Then I took off down a back alley to get ahead of the marchers and once again asked a guy to come use his balcony (sound familiar?) to take photos. I counted about 300 to 500 protestors. Contrary to the Al Jazeera article We did not see the troops or the 3,000 protestors Reuters spotted.
We also, and more importantly, didn’t see flags. This is a huge contrast from the Egyptian revolution, where flags were prominent. So far these protests aren’t about basic human rights. Some talk about bribery and removing some of the leadership (not the Sultan, they love him.) However many of the protests across the country have been about cushy jobs. There are jobs here, they just require one to get a little dirty.
It was strange yesterday to have the same feelings I had from times in Egypt. I vividly recall racing ahead of a protest group to try to get to an elevated position. This is what I got:

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