Tuesday, January 25, 2011

View from the Heart of the Tahrir Protests

Injured Egyptian after protesters began hurling rocks at police barricades.Copyright: LeAnne Graves
It began with Tunisia, a country under a 23-year rule of Ben Ali. With that brought hope to Egyptians that just perhaps Mubarak’s 30-year rule could be tested.

Protests began today for National Police Day (a national holiday that became effective only a year ago), but the voices were all the same: “Gamal, go back to your father (Hosni) and leave Egypt.”

People are restless and have been inspired to lead a revolution, calling for change with demonstrations throughout the North African country. And I wanted to witness it, thus I set off on my journey to Tahrir Square around 1:15 pm. Roads were blocked off and I walked for about 25 minutes before reaching Tahrir.

Taking many detours, I found myself lost. That’s when I stumbled upon Tarek who was desperately trying to find his friends protesting at the 26th of July Street near Tahrir. We talked briefly and I said, “Please, whatever you do, don’t set yourself on fire – no cause is worth that.” He said, “The only one that needs to be on fire is Mubarak.” And with that we separated and I stumbled upon a small demonstration and was thinking to myself, “If only they could all come together.”

No sooner than I thought that, I reached back to Tahrir Square and found two or three small groups meeting one another with excited and explosive cheers. Then joined the larger protest from the 26th of July Street, but you have to wonder, does anyone know what they’re protesting? They discuss poverty and the Mubarak regime, but as protests continue to rock throughout Egypt – not just Cairo – does anyone have the faintest idea as to what will be next? I asked those around me, “If you don’t want Mubarak, who do you want?” They responded, “We want to be equal.”

That answer still doesn’t quite cut it. Do the Egyptian people want El Baradei? And most importantly, does Egypt have any other candidate that is remotely qualified to run the country?

Here are some photos I took while in the belly of the giant. Take care and be safe Egypt!

A man got caught with the teargas as he tried to throw it back toward the armed guards.
Another Egyptian protester injured during clashes

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