Thursday, February 17, 2011

Egypt Protests - How Love Conquers All

Broken arms and in a bad condition, but with good spirits.

There are plenty of revolutions described in the history book and I'll be the first to admit that I have little knowledge of the details surrounding most of them. What I do know however, is how the Egyptians in 18 days managed to end a 30+ year old dictatorship. It wasn't done through assassination or bombs, terrorism or unnecessary violence. No, the Egyptians did what the world thought was impossible. Through their unending love for their country and for eachother, they attracted millions of people from all social classes out in the streets. 

Few people have missed that the heart of the Egyptian revolution is in Tahrir (Liberation) Square. In this spot in central Cairo the people settled down, building shelters and created voluntary civilian work forces to keep the occupied Tahrir in order. Human chains were created to block the tanks from moving in to the square, schools and kindergardens were set up as well as makeshift hospitals and lost-and-found-stations. To enter the square you had to walk through several security checks; these too were run by civilians. Everyone got body searched and any sharp or other potentially dangerous objects were confiscated. After each check point, you were met with apologizes that they had to search you. I apologized too, for the people to be forced into this situation. The pro-democracy protesters were welcoming and protecting the few foreigners that had chosen to stay in the country (most of them journalists of course). A sign held up by a young man said "Tourists! Please don't leve, we'll protect you!" Women and men came to thank me for not leaving, saying that it was because of international media that they were somewhat safe from the authorities. The day after Mubarak resigned, the people returned to Tahrir. This time armed with brooms and plastic bags to clean up the square.

Of course an experience like this leaves you with tons of impressions that needs to be sorted and worked on. I learned so much that it's impossible to put it all into words, but one single thing changed me forever: the amazing solidarity that rose to the surface of all the Egyptians out in the streets is nothing less than a miracle. It's safe to say that no matter of all the horrible things that happened during the protests, it brought out the very very best in the people. Since the protests begun I haven't experienced any hassle and haven't heard of any sexual harrassement coming from the pro-democracy protesters. When the police and thugs started the attacks on the protesters, the people defended themselves, but they did it with a smile. I have no doubt what so ever that what kept the protesters going, through the violence and harsh conditions, is the humour and good spirits among them. Those that couldn't directly join the protests, kept the people up by songs and dancing. They may have been beaten and humiliated, even killed, but they never lost hope.

Whenever I think of the bread that was shared in Tahrir Square, of children sitting on their parents' shoulders chanting pro-democracy verses with smiles on their faces, of the human chains protecting the museum from looters and of the wounded getting plastered up with simple means, my eyes are filled with tears. And I really mean it, the incredible love and respect I've witnessed during these past few weeks truly makes me cry. It proves once and for all that the goodness of mankind beats the evil fews by far. Forget about guns and violence; with love in your heart you can accomplish anything.


Anastasia said...

Thank you, Maria, for all the posts from Cairo, I've spent all these days in Hurghada watching AlJazeera almost 24 hours a day. The way you described the Revolution and united Egyptians is the same I felt it. My respect for the people of this country risen up 200%. I'm Russian and even we are supposed to be an emotional nation, I've never seen and don't expect to see our people to be so helpful to each other, so organized and peaceful in such circumstances. As well as the Egyptian sense of humor. It's worth admiration.
Feel sorry for those foreigners who understood this revolution as a big mistake of stupid people who can't change anything. Many of them in Russia even think that protesters robbed the Museum. Others say that the future of Egypt will be worse: the poor will become beggars, new politicians will start to fight for their positions. Most surprising for me is to hear this from Russian women married to Egyptians. living here for a long time and having children. How strong is the power of lies in the media if they don't see and feel what is going on around them. Many foreigners left Egypt and watched their TV saying mostly the worse things about this revolution.
You are really brave, I saw many reports about foreign journalists arrested in Cairo on AlJazeera. Thanks God the Revolution succeeded and you are safe as well as those protesters who risked their lives and also were in a great danger if Mubarak didn't step down.
I live in Hurghada, hope you are having a good time here after these hard 2 weeks.

Meme said...

@Anastasia Thank you dear for your kind words. From the start I felt that reporting what I saw was an obligation. It never occured to me to leave Egypt when they needed international eyes the most. I'm truly amazed of the bravery and good spirits that rose among the Egyptians and I fully agree that they are worthy of every ounce of respect.

The Egyptians have been brainwashed, got their minds and hearts numbed through years and years of oppression. I think it's the same for foreigners. They come to Egypt as tourists and only see their small piece of paradise. What they fail to see is the life of the common people. I hope they do now (and I most certainly do!)

Thank you again for your encouraging words. Maybe we'll bump in to eachother one of these days. Hurghada isn't that big after all! : )

Oh, and on the 25th there's a planned gathering to celebrate that Mubarak was removed, and to pay respect to the souls that are no longer with us. From what I understand it's supposed to take place in Mashrabia Town!