Egypt Revolts: Day Four + My Very Own Experience
Friday of Anger, January 28th 2011
Today I’ve spent the best two hours of my life, the best two hours I’ll ever spend, and I’ve also spent the worst night in my life. Today was an unforgettable day by all means. I felt alive Today, I used my power today, I have never been more positive than I was today. I have never felt that strong, that happy, that selfless.
Today has officially started at 12:00 am, the first thing that day brought was the cut-off of the internet. I’ve tried Vodafone DSL, Mobinil mobile internet, Vodafone USB modem, LINKDOTNET dial-up, but nothing worked. In not more than 15 minutes, Egypt was put offline! This proved one thing and only one thing; that our government is simply stupid, but that’s not news to anyone.
On the next morning, at 8:00 am there was no police in Cairo. Two hours later, the three mobile phone networks were also cut-off. Our stupid government succeeded in blocking Egypt from the rest of the world, but has definitely failed in decreasing the number of protesters. If anything, the number increased because of this blockage.
I went to the demonstrations with my parents, we went to the Shooting Club, prayed there, then walked to Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Gameat el Dowal Street. There, we joined a huge demonstration coming from all around Mohandaseen. There, I’ve spent the two hours of my life in a walk from Mostafa Mahmoud to El Galaa’ Bridge.
We walked with civilized, well educated, organized, disciplined Egyptians. We walked safely together, people helped each other; they gave each other masks, vinegar, Coca Cola, water, and tissue paper. I’ve seen people I know, many of them, GUCians who probably are living a luxurious life and have no personal problems with the government, but were very energetic shouting out as hard as they can. From what I saw today, 85% were upper-middle class and 15% from lower classes. The lower classes were as disciplined and well organized as the rest. There was zero sexual harassment, almost no one used swear words. I have seen some one swearing and others told him very calmly please don’t swear. He said sorry and didn’t do it again.
There wasn’t any violence from the people’s side, or from the police at the beginning. We joined the demonstration a little after the prayer has ended, policemen surrounded the protesters and I thought they wouldn’t allow us in, but they did. Without even asking them to, the central security solider moved away and allowed us in.
But as we walked in Tahrir Street there was a smell of vinegar that made everyone somewhat uncomfortable. Turns out the police has put some chemical in the streets. As we moved toward the Galaa’ Square they started using tear gas. Since this was my first time to join a demonstration, it was also my first to get aquatinted with tear gas. I was very far away from the tear gas bomb itself, but its effects, tears, runny nose, burning feeling, were still felt where I was. However, people that were ahead of us had experienced fainting in some cases and suffocation in others and only more tears and burning in others, nothing was serious though. When we reached the middle of the street we saw an apartment and a roof in the square, where there was only police and no protesters yet, on fire. It was far away but people climbed fences and were able to see that the police threw something by mistake in the apartment. The fire continued and reached the floor below it, but fortunately they were able to stop it. A little later, a police car armored was set on fire, again, at that point protesters haven’t reached the square where the car was on fire. Again, according to those who climbed the fences, the police did it by mistake by throwing something its way. The police got busy trying to stop the fire from moving forward. People were able to move forward bit by bit. People from the front kept telling people behind what to do; to stop, to move forward, to stop again, to go backward, or to move closer to each other.
People in front, who were mainly young men, opened the streets bit by bit and we moved forward behind them. We sometimes had to move back when they threw tear gas bombs. At some point, we had to stop a while because people couldn’t open the way. A woman of about 70 years, who was there alone, moved around saying: “ya Allah, ya Allah, yalla ya shabab, Rabena Ma’ako”. A very very brave woman, she kept moving around without getting tired, she kept encouraging people to move forward and not to give up. When we got closer to the square, the tear gas increased in front of us and some people started to faint. Three ambulances came to rescue, but people only wanted to receive help without getting into the ambulance, because they were scared that they might get arrested if they got inside, this has already happened on the 25th.
As time passed, protesters in front of us were able to open the way to the end of the Galaa’ bridge. When we walked to the beginning of the bridge, we saw some stones around us, looked like people were throwing stones at them to open the way and to stop them from throwing tear gas bombs at them. We began to walk on the bridge and saw the most extraordinary view anyone can see; the policemen took off and ran away leaving their cars. Three cars were put to close the end of the bridge. The protesters climbed the cars and stood over them telling the people to keep moving and not to stop, they were chanting, they had the Egyptian flag with them. None of them tried to ruin the cars; they were as good as new. The amazing youth really did a great job; our demonstration was 100% peaceful, if anything, the violence came from the police. The stones that were thrown were thrown AFTER the police started to throw a huge number of tear gas bombs. I guess something else too was used, that thing that caused the fire. We moved forward, but the police started to move forward again and throw more tear gas bombs.
At that point we moved back and some started running, but people asked them not to because we don’t want anyone to fall, and they did. They stopped running and walked in a very organized way. Then my family and I went back and people kept moving and trying to get thorough, and of course they did.
Bottom line is, I have never felt more proud, of myself and my family and of every person that walked in these demonstrations. I have never felt more Egyptian, this has been the best thing I have done for my country and for myself. This has been the best thing I have done in my life. Mubarak always showed the worst side of the Egyptians, but today, I have seen the real Egyptians, the positive ones, the strong ones, the organized ones. The well educated planned, and the rest followed, followed in an organized way, followed without being choatic. They followed, and were as well organized as everyone else.
These are the real Egyptians, these are the ones we see every day in the streets, but Mubarak had always managed to show us the worst of each other. The government had always managed to keep us busy with finding a job, with trying to have enough money to live a humane life, with our health, even with the unbearable traffic. But when some of us woke up and reminded the rest that what we’re all busy doing is only keeping us busy because of the oppression that we’re under, because we’ve been silent, because we were patient, too patient, as camels. But camels are not only patient, they’re also strong creatures. They have teeth that bite, and feet that run and they use it when they’ve had enough. If camels leave and walk away, people will not able to move. If camels decide to stop, again people will not be able to move. Camels have all the power, yes they are patient, but when once they’ve had enough the world stops moving. And their world right now has stopped moving, they can’t do anything right now. When people woke up, their good side has appeared, when they were reminded that they were fooled, they worked together as one hand in a very civilized way, unlike what everyone had thought.
My day hasn’t ended yet, neither did the day of any Egyptian end before 12:00 am. At 5:30 pm, we were still in Mohandeseen when we heard about the curfew that starts at 6:00 pm. We tried to go back home in Heliopolis through 6th of October bridge. The bridge was closed after Zamalek, cars were driving on the opposite direction and it was a complete mess. We failed to reach Heliopolis and went back to Mohandeseen. We passed by three demonstrations in Zamalek and Mohandeseen, the police was more than scared and out of control. They were in a state of panic, some of them were taking their cars and leaving, others were still throwing tear gas bombs.
We’ve arrived at my grandmother’s after the curfew and saw a demonstration still moving and going on, nobody decided to leave. We’ve arrived to find that the police has disappeared from Tahrir and Abd El Moneam Reyad, that Cairo is on fire. We got to know and see on the JSC that the NDP headquarters was completely stolen and set on fire. Now from what I saw today in the demonstrations, there is no way that the people I walked with, these civilized people could steal anything, even the ones from lower classes. But I’ll say they did, why did they set it on fire? To take vengeance? What kind of vengeance is this? To put a building on fire? This simply doesn’t make sense; who would take revenge by burning a building one building away from the Egyptian museum? Then the largest firefighting unit in Cairo is five minutes away from this place. Why haven’t they come? People have called them many many times.
Later, looters broke into the Egyptian museum! OK, I’ll say that there are awful people in that country who can steal the EGYPTIAN MUSEUM. Who has given the chance to steal it? Why did the police guards leave their places inside the museum? There were only three guards inside the museum, the rest left. The tourism police left, the firefighting department left, even the ambulance cars left, the traffic department left. Who saved the museum? The real Egyptian Youth, the protesters. One thousand Egyptians stood around the museum and protected it. They caught the looters and it turned out they’re secret police. The police left to rob the country! Yes, it’s the police who stole and burned, it’s them who are putting us in this mess.
Other things have been burned; the Alexandria Governorate building, which is a very old palace, police departments across the country, shops in Mohandeseen, Ahmed Ezz’s office in Mohandeseen, some banks, the Alexandria branch of Ceramica Cleopatra, a car dealer in Suez and other things. The prisoners in the police department were set free, of course to do more vandalism.
Hours later, the Egyptian television said that Fathy Soroor, head of the parliament will give a speech in a few minutes. This made everyone feel very optimistic, because according to the Egyptian constitution, if the president resigns then the head of the parliament should be put as president for 45 days and then elections are done. A little later, the television says that Mubarak will give a speech. We still had hope that he might be resigning on TV. But of course this didn’t happen, of course he said the worst speech that could anyone think of. He did absolutely nothing; he gave no compromises, nothing. He talked with a threatening voice, he said that they’re doing their best and we’re not even grateful! He only asked the Government to resign, as if people will accept this, as if this will stop the demonstrations!
I’ve been hearing chants all night, I’ve been hearing gunfire all night after his speech. People in Mohandeseen were trying to save their houses all night against looters. Looters that the government put to scare people, to keep them busy protecting their homes, but demonstrations are still going and will stay all night. This will never stop until Mubarak leaves with his regime. The Egyptians have woken up and have had enough, they will stay strong, they will stay in their places until they see the day when Egypt is free from its real looters, the head looters.
There is one more thing that I should be proud of, there are two brothers that I always will be proud to know until the day I die. My second cousins, whom their mother died yesterday and instead of staying home to mourn her death, they went into the streets tonight when they knew that the duty free shop near where they live had thugs and looters. They knew that looters will pass by their street, so one went to stand at the beginning of the street and the other at its end. They caught many many looters and took what they stole to give it back to the duty free shop. They went back to find it on fire and people there in a state of panic. They took those people to their own home to save them from the fire. I’m very proud to know them, I’m very proud of them and always will be.
I have nothing else to say except to log the chants that I have been shouting at the top of my lungs this morning along with the real Egyptians I walked with. chants that brought shiver to my whole body. Chants that came from deep in my heart, and will always stay there. Chants that I, and everyone else, believe in and always will. Chants that will keep us moving now until we’re free and will come back to us whenever anyone tries to fool us again. Today will always be a reminder for me and for everyone who walked with me. It will always remind us that we can do what we want if we only try to. I hope tomorrow will be a better day, I know people will never stop at this point. I hope Mubarak would be wise enough to know this and would leave us before the chaos increases. I hope he’d do it for the safety of Egypt, his country, and leave. I hope he’d understand that he has to leave for this to stop, to stop the bloodshed. Below are the chants:
الشعب...يريد …اسقاط النظام
يسقط يسقط حسني مبارك
يا جمال قول لابوك شعب مصر بيكرهوك
يا حرية فينك فينك حسني مبارك بيني وبينك
يا اهالينا انضموا لينا الحرية ليكوا ولينا
يا عسكري واقف ليه وإنت بتاخد نص جنيه
واحد اتنين الشعب المصري فين
مش هنخاف مش هنطاطي احنا كرهنا الصوت الواطي
عللي عللي عاللي الصوت الهيهتف مش هيموت
يا رب يا رب
ارحل ارحل ارحل