Protesting For Tahrir

When an Egyptian unravels his/her personal version of the revolution reflections, people expect to hear about someone who fought on the ground, someone beaten to death by the police’s electric sticks, who had rocks, teargas canisters, and rubber bullets thrown at them, who ran away from camels and horses, or who was detained at the State Intelligence, raped and tortured.

This time, an Egyptian writes about a different kind of fight. Throughout the uprising events, Egyptians were divided between those who protested on the ground and the avid political analysts and theorists at home watching closely protesters on the television (especially when all means of communication were cut off except landline phones across the country).

Protesters were not just in Tahrir Square but in millions fleeting across the republic echoing Tahrir’s demands. People took their political debates and arguments on the phones, on the streets, and online. And if you have notprotested in Tahrir you must have protested foror against it.

Tahrir in Arabic means liberation. The protesters choice of protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo on January 25th calling for freedom was symbolic. Yet the unintended outcome of their perseverance drastically altered the world’s estimation of the real power of Egyptians to force the former leadership to step down for the first time in approximately six thousand years of Egypt’s history.

Surviving decades of injustice largely motivated Egyptians to seek salvation. When millions risked their lives and took their anger to the streets, I had no other option but keep my anger indoors. This might come across as a proclamation of cowardice, but it was more likely a mixture of a stunned and paralyzed will to venture out to counter the violence and stay alive at the same time. Leaving was challenging due to lack of resources and information when communications were cut off, as well as danger lurking at every corner even on your way to Tahrir. Amid the chaos and chants echoed across the world, I, like many others, was busy watching the situation unfold on the ground on a foreign TV channel (Al-Jazeerah).

Police released criminals from prisons to attack not just protestors, but also citizens. So the situation dictated that I had to stay home with my mother, sister and grandmother to protect our house from thug attacks.

Men of all ages across the country in every neighborhood created weapons of different kinds, held shields, and planned to take shifts during the day and night to protect their houses and families.

Thuggery and looting was an indirect message from the previous regime to citizens that if you keep protesting and supporting protestors in Tahrir, your very life is in danger. This is where the rift emerged among Egyptians. Many Egyptians turned against protestors in Tahrir, calling on them to cease their protests because life has to go on, the economy is at its worst and it seems that Mubarak will remain in power despite the losses. This was some people’s interpretation of “stability.”

Next came Mubarak’s second speech, which was too demagogic for the naïve and too provocative for protestors, and so the rift widened. A few days later, cell phones came to life and Internet followed and it was easy for me to jump on the bandwagon and make sure people know that the uprising should continue until the ouster of Mubarak and the removal of the entire regime. We could not have stopped there. Extensive debates and statements on Facebook and Twitter was my major role. I figured if people were encountering violence in Tahrir, the least I could do was tweet. I engaged constantly in a three-way debate:
• with my Egyptian friends voicing the people in Tahrir’s demands because if the revolution had stopped before Mubarak’s gone, protestors across the country and particularly Tahrir will be followed, detained, tortured and God knows what, not to mention that everything that cost us to start this would have gone in vain and the emergency law would have been functioning at its best (brutally)
• with my Western, especially American, friends trying to explain differences between Egypt and Iran and countering Islamophobia
• with my Arab friends who wished us the best and wanted the same for them.

Debating with non-Egyptians was ten times easier than debating with Egyptians. These events have shown the true colors of people. The Egyptian uprising had changed the way many people see their friends and family members in terms of the way they think, their tolerance, knowledge, open-mindedness, and also integrity.

Perhaps opinionism is enormously interesting but equally frightening. These events were a test that came without a warning of how prepared Egyptians are for maintaining a democratic dialogue amid the tension.

Normally patriotism is the umbrella under which people voice their fears and strengths. This time it took us so long to be patriotic again, after living years under marginalization and sheer apathy. January 25th uprising was Egyptians baptism to salvation and a time machine that brought us back to our six thousand years of civilization. The very civilization that manifested itself in every corner, whether off or online in the past few months.

And although I have been one tweet away from keeping the voices of protestors in Tahrir alive online, deep down in me I had my own demons and doubts about getting where we are today. But doing anything else but protesting for Tahrir, the liberation, and the square’s demands, would have been treacherous to those who have lost their lives for our freedom.

The original post is found on the following link Protesting for Tahrir on the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC)


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