Sunday, February 06, 2011

The UNITED republic of Tahrir

I have only been to Tahrir once before, during the first week of demonstrations. At that time, it really felt like a demonstration; it was still new, fresh and without real direction.
Today, I returned to Tahrir to witness a great change. It has ceased to be a demonstration and has become -almost- a way of life. People there can dub themselves not only Egyptians, but Tahririans as well, because those who have been there from the beginning have become completely different individuals. However, let me tell you the story from the beginning.

We went to Tahrir via Kasr El Nil bridge, at the end of the bridge lies two tanks blocking the way and before that stands lines of people who are waiting patiently and in a queue to get searched so they could enter the square. There are two sections in the entrance, one for women, the other for men. I go through the women section, where I am met with a group of smiling young ladies who joke all the way through hand-searching my bag and myself. I am the kind of person who is not a fan of excessive human contact, so for me this is my worst nightmare. However, I didn't feel annoyed, because of the friendly and comforting way with which the women speak to you , putting you at ease. After passing a couple more of friendly checkpoints, we're in. As soon as we are in, we are met with a singing welcoming-party, saying "Ahlan Ahlan Bel Zowaar" "Welcome visitors". Those who have been staying in Tahrir for the past 13 days have take it upon them to welcome those who come and go; the tourists of the Tahrir republic.

Groups of people are scattered everywhere, some greatly huge others just a few, but all with a united front, bringing down the regime. Some of the people who stay up all night rest and sleep, while others chant the national anthem or "down with the regime" slogans. Women and children are everywhere, some children are only a few months old, but their parents feel that they should be part of their country's history. Some women lead the chants, while other women have completely separate demonstrations. Every now and then some celebrity passes by, usually indicated by the circle of people walking with them. As soon as the circle moves,
people start asking the ones next to them who that person was, and they are often met with the right answer. However, no one tries to hound the celebrities; they are welcomed, but not a prize commodity. In Tahrir republic, the citizen is the greatest celebrity.

I am surprised at how knowledgeable my people are; despite all of the corruption, ill-education and economic problems, even illiterate Egyptians are knowledgeable and well cultured.  Before the 25th of January, I didn't know that.

After a while the Christian prayers start; huge speakers surrounding the square echo the voice of the hymn-leader. Some people are unfamiliar with the nature of Christian prayers, but they soon get educated. Muslims and Christians stand side by side as they repeat sentences about Jesus and his compassion; national unity at its best. Flags are waved while they sing and pray, reminding everyone pf why they are here. The mass ends, but another one is scheduled in a couple of hours. However, 20 minutes or so later, someone starts shouting that it's time for Muslim prayers. Quickly, men and women form themselves in perfect lines facing the Kibla and all Muslims in the square begin to pray at the same time, while Christians watch over them, and the whole square falls silent. It is evident that religion is a great part of life in Tahrir, but not the defining part despite what others say.

Art is another part of life in Tahrir, some tents have posted up signs saying that they welcome creative types, such as singers and poets. Others have collected the stones used in bloody battles during the past days and instead utilized them in making up art forms and political statements on the ground. Others have drawn satirical portraits of political figures and some have even made them into puppets and hung them from lampposts, signifying the end of an era.

There, in Tahrir, whatever you have to say will be listened to, no matter what it is. You can easily tap on the shoulder of the person standing next to you and start talking about whatever subject you have in mind. You don't have to have an agenda or a speech prepared, just one sentence will suffice. Meanwhile, if you get hungry or thirsty, there are a number of wandering food and drink salesmen who roam the square for famished Tahririans. While other Tahririans distribute food and drink for free, in support of the cause.

In conclusion, Tahrir has become a miniature Egyptian republic, offering a brighter outlook on a possible way of life for the whole of Egypt. It is true, that after a while Tahririans will cease to be Tahririans and will become merely Egyptians, but the model they have built and upheld shows us that Egypt is well on its way to become not only a developed country, but also a cheerful, helpful and awe-inspiring one.

So, long lives the united republic of Tahrir, if not in actuality and then let it be in our own minds.


5 comments:

THE said...
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THE said...
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DrEmanShaban said...

I wish that i could be there in this small wonderful country but because of some Compelling conditions ,but msA you have described this life there perfectly , and you have succeeded to make us very jealous from every one who had the marvelous chance to be there , this is for our dear Country , believe me that this is the only wish i want now to be one of the participators of this Semitic, Supreme Revolution , my Regards :)

dancewater said...

I wish them the best, and total success.

marooned84 said...

Can't help but think how Egypt would've become if this happened 30 years ago. Maybe we could've been in the EU or sth :)
For the first time in my life I truly believe we can be a great country in the foreseeable future. I'll do my best to prevent Mubarak and his regime from hijacking my dream.

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