Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Day in ElTahrir

The following has been written by my friend, Omar H. El-Shafei, whom I am very proud of.

I will try to convey how wonderful it was to be in El-Tahrir Square today.

I headed to El-Tahrir Square with my family, after parking in El-Zamalek and taking a cab to Asr El-Neel Bridge. As soon as we crossed the bridge, we were met by the army that checked our IDs, inspected us for weapons, and finally allowed us to pass. We were among thousands of people waiting to pass through several civilian checkpoints before being admitted into the square. Separate checkpoints were set up for women and families in order to prevent separation, and they were extremely respectful in the way they treated each and every one they inspected.

After passing through all of the checkpoints and finally entering El-Tahrir Square, we were greeted with applause and cheering from the people who were already present:

"البلطجية فين المصريين أهم" , "ألو علينا شعب جبان , ييجوا يشوفوا الميدان", "مرحب مرحب يا ابطال, والله شرفته الميدان"

It was time for El-Asr prayer and people were clearing the area for these prayers. Joining the prayers in the middle of the square evoked a sense of comfort and incredible peace. Christians were around us silencing people and making sure they didn't cross our paths until we finished praying.



After prayers, I began scanning the crowd, trying to see what kinds of people would I find there, and as expected, all kinds of people were in attendance. Protestors included those from various economic backgrounds, ranging from children to the elderly, Muslims and Christians, men and women, and even foreigners. All of these people were walking safely amongst each other and never once did I feel unsafe beside any of them.

In the gardens you could see the field hospitals with tens of injured people, sitting or even sleeping. I could see incredible amounts of used medical supplies, and they still asked for more, causing me to wonder how many were really hurt during the massacre a couple of nights ago. Injured people were not limited to the hospitals only; all around you could see people with gauze covering their heads, hands, and legs. You could see people with swollen eyes and lips, and others with a limp walking around.



Those who had gathered were helping all around. Some came into the square with food and medications, some were volunteering to direct human traffic and inspect people on their way in, and others were making sandwiches and distributing water.

I spent my time in El-Tahrir Square moving from group to group, as each had its own way of chanting. Whether they used microphones, drums, guitars, songs, or simply their own voices, they all wanted the SAME thing - to get rid of this regime and president. Despite this stressful time, some people created humorous, yet to the point, cheers.

As I left El-Tahrir Square with my family, there were men on both sides of the exit, thanking us for coming and encouraging us to return tomorrow!

It was beautiful to finally see the people acting as one for something other than football. I felt as peaceful as I had ever been since the 25th of January to be there among those people. For days I had envied them, and it felt great to finally be one of them. The sight of how people helped each other, how millions had just one goal, and how they all treated each other equally and respectfully was both stunning and BEAUTIFUL.

Omar H. El-Shafei