The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 5: revolution

Saturday, January 29th, 2011 

After Rage Friday ends, it becomes clear to everyone that we're witnessing a revolution...

The 12-hour curfew ends at 6:00 am, that's when we leave. Mobile networks are finally working, but data is still blocked, so we turn on the radio to hear the news and I finally understand why I kept hearing gunfire last night. Several prisons were opened and prisoners, criminals and otherwise, are set free. For some reason, criminals who are let loose decide not to go hide, or rest. They decide to go directly to work, and the looting and vandalism begin. 

We pass by the ring road, there are burning tires and burnt vehicles. As the radio anchor explains what happened last night, we see it happening. We pass by Carrefour and we see the looting as it happens; people are carrying whatever they can and walking without any concern, a bus is waiting for some of them. What we see happening in Carrefour has happened elsewhere, in banks and ATMs, malls and different shops, all over Cairo. Many times these places were set on fire after being looted. On the radio a woman is calling in, she says she tried to call the police last night after several shops in her street were broken into. Her call was answered indeed, she was told that security will not take any action, she should tell protesters to take care of that...

Given that the security forces have fled, people decide to have neighborhood committees take control of guarding their homes and property.  From every house a person or more goes down to their street to guard it, armed with whatever may work as a weapon; firearms, cutlery and knives, swords, rocks from sidewalks, glass, Molotov cocktails, baseball bats, even broomsticks. Those who have dogs bring them to the committee, or the gathering that brought old friendships back and created new ones.

The army personnel are guarding important government buildings and museums, and it does not appear that they're protecting people. They ask people to empty the streets before the curfew in order to be able to arrest the criminals who were let loose from the government's prisons. In Tahrir Square, however, the sit-in continues to defy the curfew for the second day, the army does not take any violent action...for now. People outside the square are scared of the thugs, the level of panic is at its highest. Inside the Square people have more issues to worry about; would the army disperse the sit-in that keeps on growing? What would tomorrow bring? If Mubarak doesn't resign, what other steps could be taken to escalate? They know the revolution will continue,  but it's not clear how.

At the Presidential Palace, Omar Suliman and Ahmed Shafik are sworn in as vice president and prime minister, and the focus on this remains only inside the Palace. There is more important news that make it to international media: death. It seems that hundreds have lost their lives by the hands of the security forces yesterday in different parts of the country. Soon the numbers will turn into persons, and the persons will keep the flame of this revolution burning....

Rumors continue to circulate: there's a dispute in the army; the curfew will be imposed for real this time; a coup will end this revolution; people are being killed by snipers in side streets near Tahrir Square and Ministry of Interior. State television, after spending a day of denial, now starts talking of foreign conspiracy; Israel, Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah are all accused of starting this revolution and breaking into prisons. Everyone chooses a "truth" to believe.

The country feels dead, all private and public sector companies are closed tomorrow. Life only blooms from all the Tahrir squares on the Good Land....


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