Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Voices of Egypt's Tahrir Square, part 1

Yesterday I was in Cairo's Tahrir Square all afternoon before anyone knew that President Mubarak would resign in the evening.  I was inspired by the people I saw and spoke to in the Square.  I did videos of my conversations with about a dozen people and have been downloading those videos all night.  Since it takes a long time to download, about half are still being downloaded.  Here's the first group.

I hope these videos give you a sense of the diversity of protesters, the enormity of the crowd, the courage and determination of the Egyptian people and the energy of the moment.

This first video is of the crowd in Tahrir Square yesterday afternoon, about 6 hours before President's Mubarak resigned.  None of us had any idea that afternoon that the announcement that everyone in the Square had hoped for and expected the night before would come unexpectedly later this day.
If you have trouble viewing the video on the blog, here is the link.

Here's one woman's voice.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out how to rotate videos in YouTube, but her thoughts were valuable so I included the sideways video anyway.  (If anyone reading this knows how to rotate videos, please leave me a comment with instructions.)
Here's the link for this video:

There were a couple corners of Tahrir Square that were dedicated to the people who were killed during these 18 days of protest.  More than 300 died in the past 18 days.   Here is a short video showing one of the banners of some of these martyrs.
This video is also available at this link:

As I was walking through the dense crowds in Tahrir Square yesterday, I glanced back and saw a young man  sitting quietly in front of a tent as hundreds of thousands of people streamed by him in Tahrir Square.  I took this photo of him then went back to speak to him.
I asked him if he spoke English.  He did and said he didn't mind if I videotaped our conversation.  Here's the video:
Here's the link to this video:

As I was walking by a group of young people and took their photo, they motioned for me to come closer so they could talk to me.  Here's one of the videos I took of our conversation:

This video is also available at this link:

I asked one of the girls I saw at the protest if she spoke English.  She did as did her mother.  They were both clearly angry about then President Mubarak's refusal to resign in his speech the night before, despite mass protests for more than two weeks.
This video is also available at this link:


The next video is of a conversation I had with a couple women at the celebrations last night after President Mubarak's resignation was announced.  My son and I went out at 10pm to a road called Port Said in our neighborhood where we heard there was a big celebration.  This next video is of a couple women giving their reactions.  The end of the video was cut off accidentally.  She was saying they are really proud.
This video is also available at this link:

While everyone is still whirling from the celebrations, we are also still intently watching to see what will unfold.  Some of the latest developments are that the Military Council has announced that Egypt will respect all international treaties.  This is a big relief for Israel since it means the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel will remain in place.  

The Military is assuring the public that there will be a smooth transition to democracy with civilian rule, but they haven't said when that transition would take place.  

The Military Council still has a curfew, but the hours are more relaxed than before (from midnight to 6am instead of 7pm-6am).  The Military is working on getting police back out on the streets while reminding them that their duty is to the people.  

One controversial announcement from the Military Council is that the existing Cabinet, formed by former President Mubarak, will remain until the new government is formed.  One protester said it wasn't clear from that part of the announcement whether this meant the Cabinet would remain until the next Presidential election (which might be as late as September) or whether it means until an interum "unity government" might be formed.

Today was a major clean-up day in Tahrir Square with hundreds of protesters joining military soldiers in the effort.   There are still many protesters in Tahrir Square remaining to insure that the military meets several critical demands.  The protesters have formed a Council of Trustees to defend the aims of the revolution and to have a dialogue with the military directly.  Their most immediate demands are to release all political prisoners (-- I'm guessing there are hundreds, possibly thousands--) and lift the emergency law.  (If you would like to read the Emergency Law, there is a summary at the end of this blog entry:

I'll end this blog entry with a video from last night of a young man who I later learned is an Egyptian student at American University in Cairo.  He is a political science major.

This video is also available at

I'm downloading more videos tonight so will post a second batch tomorrow.

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