Beyond Tahrir Square, beyond the boundaries of the sprawling capital, beyond even the provincial cities where protesters joined the call to topple President Hosni Mubarak, rural Egypt is restless for change.
Scraping a meagre living from the land, farmers and rural workers in Egypt’s agricultural heartland have watched the largely urban uprising that has shaken the ruling system and many back the web-savvy youths who galvanised the nation.
A few have turned up in Cairo in their galabiyas, the robes worn in the fields, although most are too busy trying to feed their families. But many believe it is time for a new era, even if some think Mubarak should stay on a few months more.
“The revolution is good … It will give us stability but the protest should stop and the president should be allowed to stay until the end of his term,” said farmer Fawzi Abdel Wahab, working a field near the Nile Delta city of Tanta.
“If the president doesn’t do as he promised, Tahrir Square is still there and the youth will not die, they can go back,” he said, his wife and daughter nodding in agreement.
The protesters want Mubarak to quit now. Mubarak has said he will step down at the end of his term in September.
The protests may have begun with an educated youth and liberal, urban elite, but a tour of the Nile Delta suggests discontent is more widespread. Mubarak’s government needs to do more than meet the aspirations of the middle class.
“The ideas the youths called for in their revolution express those of all Egyptian people, including farmers and residents of rural areas who, like the rest of Egyptians in big cities, face the same needs and suffering,” said analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah.
Satellite dishes that litter roof tops of small country dwellings or village coffee shops spread the word far and wide.
“New media, mainly satellite channels, have managed to spread the message of the revolution everywhere, including rural areas,” said Abdel Fattah of the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.