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Coworking in Cairo during the protests

Screenshot of The Hub's website in Cairo

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Ulrike von Ruecker has lived in Egypt for more than ten years. In 2007 she co-founded The Hub in Cairo and has managed it since its opening. On Wednesday, communication to Egypt worked surprisingly well via Skype. Ulrike said all is fine and we should not believe in everything reported in the media. But the following night several people died at the Tahrir Square, and countless people were seriously injured. The mood is depressed: "I am completely worried and still need to sort myself out." We interviewed her under these difficult conditions and spoke to her about the current situation of coworkers in Egypt.

Ulrike hasn’t had access to her coworking space for more than three days. All the streets to her space are blocked off. In the evening she can’t even leave her house since a curfew has been imposed. Most of people don’t work anymore anyway: "Either they are on the streets at the protests or at home, sitting in front of their computers. Unfortunately, many people bury their heads in the sand and do nothing as well."

For herself, she is between "opting out completely and waiting until everything is over or going out on the streets." She would prefer to be engaged in the street protests, but knows also she shouldn’t do it - for various reasons. Ulrike has a child who is currently her first priority. But her husband is involved in the protest movement.

For her, the protests will continue, until Mubarak & Co. make public and clear when and how they will resign: "Everything here reminds me of the situation we used to have in the GDR, the former East German dictatorship, before it collapsed," says a friend of hers in Egypt who lived in Leipzig during this time. For both, it is certain that change will come. “There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of assembly for more than thirty years, the fight is about converting Egypt to a free country." However, it will be hard: "Mubarak and the prime minister don’t care for a citizen less or more, there still are enough of them."

The situation of coworkers doesn’t differ so much from Egypt’s general population. The separation is like in many Arab states "between extreme rich and poor, a big middle class doesn’t exist.” Furthermore, there’s also a line between “the party elite which profits from the system including their followers and the avant-garde of dissidents".

Since most of coworkers are engaged in social projects, they work more often in danger of violating the very restricted borders of expression: "But in the end, it doesn’t matter whether you are a coworker or not, it's about the country, you can’t really separate coworkers from the rest of the population."

Usually there are about ten people who work at The Hub in Cairo, half of them come from abroad, like Ulrike, but nationalities have never been a big issue in her coworking space: "It doesn’t make any difference.”

Many coworkers around the world have expressed concern for the people of Cairo. We at Deskmag forward to the coworkers of The Hub Cairo and the people of Egypt our hopes for a peaceful and positive resolution to the current situation.

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