09 February 2013

5Jan 2011 Egypt Revolution Look Back, Day 14 to Day 16 From My Experience

Day 14 to Day 16  From My Experience

7 February to 9 February, 2011

One of the key voices to the revolution was Wael Ghonim. A few days into the revolution, Ghonim was taken by state security forces and held for twelve days of brutal interrogation. He was released on 7 February.
After he was released, Mona El-Shazly interviewed him on national television. We were glued to the Dream TV interview and discussed it for hours afterwards.

Memorial highlights that I wrote down in my journal from his interview:
1. We want to return the dignity to every Egyptian.
2. How to fight all kinds of corruption. How to prevent systematic corruption.
3. We want to return the sense of belonging to the youth.

The next day, protests grew more intense. From my balcony, I could hear the chants of thousands, "Irhal!" "Irhal! (Leave! Leave!)" reverberating through the streets as groups of protestors marched to Tahrir Square from all parts of the city.

To Enter Tahrir

Artists' Day in Tahrir, 2011
As the protests grew larger, one did not just waltz into Tahrir. There were checkpoints, manned by the people of the revolution, at specific entry points leading to Tahrir.  Identifications were checked and bags were checked. People were waiting in queues to get into Tahrir.

Artist Day, Family Day

Through these end days, the protests continued to be peaceful.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011, was artists' day. Hundreds of artists gathered in Tahrir to draw and create political art against the Mubarak regime. This open artistic freedom of expression was virtually unheard of, and typically resulted in an artist being put into prison.

The mood in Tahrir during these days was incredibly lively. Amidst the chants, groups of people would break out in song, accompanied by drums and clapping. Whole families were present, often times their children lead the chants for the ouster of Mubarak. It was always fun to unexpectedly meet friends and acquaintances in Tahrir.

Evacuations and (the first of many) Travel Advisories

As the Revolution grew, other nations started declaring evacuation of their citizens.  I, of course, distinctly remember watching CNN when the U.S. government called for the evacuation of Americans, telling Americans to leave as soon as possible. They provided chartered planes to evacuate Americans from Egypt. The rumor (and possibly true) was that citizens would have to pay for the flight.

My sister send me an email, "I'm pretty sure you're staying. Be safe."
Of course, I wasn't going to leave my home.

Foreigners were leaving the country on any available flight out. One of my friends who lived in a suburb of Cairo that was hit particularly hard with looters, returned to her country for her safety.

The Force of the Revolution Grows

Wednesday, 9 February, the call for the removal of Mubarak was reaching to the countryside. Labor strikes and protests were erupting in different cities across the country. Suez was particularly tense.
At this time, the negotiations between (then) Vice President Suleiman and the opposition continued. Suleiman offered reforms, while others of Mubarak's regime went on state television and accused foreign nations, including the US, of interfering in Egypt's affairs.

Within Tahrir, there was suspicion that undercover police were documenting people participating in the revolution. The fear among the protestors was that if Mubarak didn't step down, the consequences of being part of the protests would lead to being systematically tracked down and thrown into prison.

By now, the Egyptian army had assumed security responsibilities to maintain order and guard the Egyptian Museum from looters and vandals. The Egyptian Museum is located just off Tahrir. We had tanks on the streets of Cairo.

Always With Humour

One of the more popular jokes making the rounds during this time:
Mubarak dies and meets Nasser and Sadat in the afterlife. They ask him, 'Poison or parade?' (Conspiracy theorists allege Nasser was poisoned; Sadat was assassinated during a military parade.) Mubarak shrugs and answers: 'Facebook.

#25jan   #egypt   #egyptianrevolution   #revolution