“To celebrate or to protest” seemed to be the question on people’s minds as they gather today, January 25th, in Tahrir Square to mark the 1-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution and overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. While some people find cause for celebration, others find reasons to be angry, as they accuse the military of not giving in to all their demands. As of now, 1 PM Cairo time, the protest has been peaceful, but I, like I’m sure many non-activist Egyptians, am holding my breath in wariness.
I drove through Tahrir Square on Sunday, 22 January after my husband’s visa interview at the American embassy (they approved him! To which I can only say, thank you God). It should be noted that the line of Egyptians waiting for an appointment for general visas snaked all the way down the avenue, which only proves that Egyptians are wary of their country’s future. Many of them, my husband said, were Copts, although I’m not sure how he could discern that just by looking at them.
Unlike the last time I saw Tahrir Square, back in July 2011, there was activity this time, and by activity I mean protesters. On one of the center circles of the square (surrounded by traffic) protesters had erected red tents and had gathered. It wasn’t crowded, but I was kind of happy to be in the car and not walking on the street. Apparently an activist was stabbed to death right outside the justice building that day (see link below), which explained why there were several journalists gearing up in front of their cameras as people gathered to watch.
A man preparing food; after all, even Tahrir Square protesters need to eat.
Another man appearing to prepare food, which kills the stereotype that Arab men can’t cook for themselves (his “Boys Don’t Cry” shirt is amusing, I think).
Not sure what this tent was for., but there appears to be someone’s leg and boot coming out of the door. Perhaps it’s a bathroom? If only I could read the sign.
I love this photo. It was taken, of course, as we drove along in the car, and it appears as though the man on the moped is about to drive straight at us! Here you can see a series of Egyptian flags that were staked in the ground, as well as the Cairo Tower ever so faintly in the background. Red, black and white (Egyptian flag colors) were everywhere, as were people selling Jan 25 tchotchke memorabilia and little food stalls.
There is a lot to be said about the 25 January Revolution. In the year since it happened, frustrations have run high, more people have been killed, honor and respect have been replaced with animalistic barbarism and, overall, not much in the way of change has occurred. For me, personally, the Revolution meant having my husband’s visa case delayed, which is not something that I take lightly. The Revolution meant not being able to go outside in Egypt because my husband feels that it is “unsafe.” Had the Revolution not happened, I possibly might be in Egypt to stay, but it is impossible for me to live in a country that at any moment could spark into intense unrest.
Although I disagreed with the methods of both sides of the Revolution, it is here to stay. Whether the demands of the protesters are fully met within a week, month, year or many years, the people will have to deal with what they created. After all, this was the greatest example of a people’s choice, a people’s work, and a people’s unity. Egyptians need to stand unified, forget their differences, let go of the past while still honoring those who died for the Revolution, and charge ahead for democracy.
1. Bikaya Masr: “Egyptian Activist Stabbed to Death in Cairo” by Mohammad Abdel Salam, Jan 22., 2012 http://bikyamasr.com/54604/egyptian-activist-stabbed-to-death-in-cairo/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=WordSocial
2. A very interesting wordpress.com site regarding the author’s personal take on the Revolution: http://legalrizk.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/january-25-revolution-a-year-in-review/#comment-3