Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cairo Protests - Saturday 5th

I dressed my grazed feet and once again headed towards Tahrir Square. This time we knew which street to take to avoid the Mubarak supporters and possible hostile situations. A few ID-checks and body searches (and many apologizes from the civilian security volunteers) later we were on pro-democratic occupied ground in central Cairo. Loud music was played through speakers, people were chanting and cheering and the over all atmosphere was very peaceful and cool.

In the middle of the square, in a round plot of dirty grass, the protesters have set up their camp of simple provisional shelters composed of poles, plastic and blankets. Although a light rain had been trickeling over Cairo the whole day and it was starting to get cold, the protesters were showing no sign of leaving. Injured people with dirty bandages, plaster and dressings were resting on the ground while thousands of people were treadding the ground around them. Stalls of free water and snacks were set up and people shared what they had with eachother. It's quite amazing to witness the incredible solidarity and high spirits among the protesters, many of which haven't left the square in many days.

One woman came up to me while I was taking some photos of the crowd, took my hand and gave me the most brilliant smile and thanked me from the bottom of her heart for being a foreigner and not leaving Egypt. Another man told me that thanks to the foreigners that are still in Cairo, reporting what's going on, they are saved from the police. If it wasn't for us, he said, they would basically be screwed. I have no say in that, but I experienced some very emotional situations today. The thought of that first woman who took my hand makes my eyes water. In response I told her that of course we're staying, the world needs to see what's going on here.

In one place of the square, civilians had put up a table with lost items like mobile phones and wallets. How amazing is that? The solidarity and warmth among the people refusing to leave the square as long as Mubarak is president is nothing less than incredible. I so wish that I could do more, but my words and pictures will have to do for now.

When we were about to leave, a man by the barbed wire barricade asked us with a smile to stay. Others simply said "Thanks for coming! Please come again!" And I sure will.

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