Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Evening in Tahrir Square 10/02/2011

   Tonight Thur. Feb.10th 2011) all the signs pointed to Mubarak stepping down. 'Experts' on all networks were predicting that he was about to step down, some even citing inside stories. Whether or not they were just optimistic or whether they had deliberately been fed false information we'll probably never know.

   My brother, best friend and her brother decided to go to Tahrir to listen to the announcement live with the thousands there instead of at home. We went by metro (underground/subway) to the closest station to Tahrir and walked the rest of the way. On the Metro strangers were discussing and debating what the speech would reveal. Strangers on a train talking to each other; the world really is changing!

    We walked along Ramses St. (went pass the Lawyers Syndicate which still had posters supporting the protests from their massive march on Wed.) and entered Tahrir via a small side street. As you enter, people at the checkpoints remind you to have your National ID card ready for inspection. For those of you who are not Egyptian, the ID states your name, address and occupation. There were several checkpoints to go through, they were all manned (and womanned!) by civilians, no military presence at all.

  • frisked and IDs checked when going in by civilians not military. Once by woman in niqab. 
  • people ensuring we, as women, were able to pass.
  • All socio-economic levels. however much or little you have, this is breaking down social/class barriers. No fear of pickpocketing or harassment.
  • One man started arguing with another, crowds around them started chanting 'selmia' peaceful, a reminder to stay true to the spirit of these protests.
  • One stage had a man with a microphone announcing lost items that had been handed in.
  • One group of people who had just arrived were shaking hands with people and saying they had come from Suez. There was also a group from Sinai.
  • Constant movement in the square, only small groups staying in one place. Usually these groups have a megaphone or similar to lead chants. One group was reciting poetry.
  • Various patriotic songs were playing, with the crowds singing along and sometimes breaking into dance.
  • The field hospital appeared to be well stocked and manned. 
  • A large piece of white fabric was stretched out as a screen to show the speech. Crowds were jostling for best view.
  • Speech was scheduled for 8 pm GMT (10 local time) but by 10:20 the crowds were surging, there was no sign of a speech and our lift home was restless so we left. In the end we listened  to the speech on the radio crowded around a parked car on the Kasr el Eini bridge. The reactions there were vocal enough, I can only imagine what it was like back in the square.
  • Until I was there, I hadn't really realised how big Tahrir is. Even though I've been there many times before I've usually been driving and so concentrating more on traffic lights and other cars than the area I'm driving through. Whatever the outcome of all this, I'll never be able to just drive through again without feeling very emotional.
The sign reads: The People Want the Fall of the Regime

The flag flying proudly

Revolutionary artwork

Listening to the speech

Note: This was written before Mubarak stepped down. That one's for tomorrow! 

7 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Nora. So nice to be able to follow this through your eyes. Peace and prosperity to the new Egypt.

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  2. Thank you for posting! Reading your account really makes me feel part of the excitement. I hope the new government is wise and truly one the people of Egypt will be proud of. From Leah who is posting as anonymous!

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  3. Thnx for sharing, gave me a good sense for how it is there.

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  4. What I think is so incredible is how the protesters were so determined to stay peaceful and they did, despite how long it went on. I think that is really admirable and something to be applauded.

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  5. Nikki, that really is the thing I'm most proud of. We kept it peaceful.

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  6. I know exactly what you mean about Tahrir. I too will only ever view it as the place where "this happened there", and "that happened over there" and "that is where we slept" and "that is where we fought". Glad to follow your blog. Well done. Keep going.

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