by Nile El Wardani
Yesterday my twelve year old son and I made our way to Tahrir Square to join 200,000 Egyptians gathered together to make two very clear demands of their new President, Mohamed Morsi. We arrived at one of the many meeting points, beside the statue of Saad Zagloul at the entrance to the Kasr il Aini Bridge. We sat on a short wall at the entrance to the Opera House grounds waiting for friends to arrive. We watched with fascination as private cars, mini buses, taxis and even horse drawn buggies unloaded their passengers. A group of four felaheen farmers dressed in their gallebeas arrived in a minibus. A BMW dropped off a group of ladies clad in Gucci and Michael Kors bags and sheik running suits. They felt so safe they didn’t even leave their watches and jewelry at home. Then came the students 1000s of them walking from their universities carrying signs “down with the declaration” “give us back our revolution.”
A kind man with a beautiful smile and a strong limp walked in front of us carrying dozens and dozens of flags. We bought two medium size Egyptian flags for 75 cents each. His hands and arms showed signs of severe burns, as we handed him ten Egyptian pounds. The elegant man sitting beside us on the short wall teased the flag man saying; “Today is Egypt’s day. Don’t sell any flags for Palestine or Syria. Today is Egypt’s day!” My son, who has always loved flags, immediately began waving the two Egyptian flags in the air welcoming the people pouring out of vehicles to join the march.
We watched young boys climb to the top of the statue as people from every walk of life; poor and wealthy elites, old and young, Muslims, Christians and Secularists, men, women, boys and girls, farmers, business people, taxi drivers, teachers, doctors, engineers and families joined in the gathering. As people found their groups they started walking across the sublimely calm Nile River, over the bridge, only a five minute walk to Tahrir Square.
I was warned by some that it could become violent, that I should not go and that I should not take my son. Others assured me it would be safe and a great learning experience for my son. What we found in the Square was nothing short of amazing.
Despite the fact that there was not one policeman in the vicinity, there was total calm and peace. The Egyptian people and the independent parties had organized superbly. Meeting places were posted on FB and Twitter, tents were erected in the center of the square for each party, young men wearing yellow vests were trained as security guards to keep the peace and not allow troublemakers inside the square. The members of the Brotherhood did not come. Instead the Square was for all other Egyptians. It was a testament to me of the character of the Egyptian people. They are a people that honor human dignity.
The feeling in the square was electric. The people were festive and I saw many friends meet by chance and greet each other with kisses. Peddlers had come to the Square selling every kind of sweet; pop corn, dora on a stick, cotton candy, oriental sweets and fruit juices. A man with a hand painted cart sold peanuts and bright red candied apples on sticks. A few meters away was a woman and her daughter selling roz bil leban – rice pudding with a variety of nuts to choose from. Another was passing out the Egyptian national dish fuul wa tawmeya. Against the fence were peddlers selling Kafiya scarves, flags, flash lights and posters.
Everyone was calm, yet serious. There was not one report of sexual harassment. The independent liberal camp demonstrated on a scale unmatched by the Muslim Brotherhood that the vast majority of Egyptians (surveys point to 75%) are moderate, respectful of women and politically independent. In other words they do not align themselves with either the National Democratic Party of Mubarak’s past nor the Muslim Brotherhood of Morsi’s present. And they are able to organize themselves and police themselves and represent clearly their political desires and demands.
From every corner of Cairo two-hundred-thousand Egyptians walked to Tahrir Square asking for two very specific demands.
First, Egyptians are asking that President Mohamed Morsi rescind the declaration he made last Thursday which “gives the president Pharaoh-like powers.” The declaration renders Morsi’s decisions immune from any legal challenge for the next six months. Their second demand asks for the nullification of the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a New Egyptian Constitution. Egyptians want a re-selection of the members of the Constituent Assembly so that it is a proper representation of Egyptian society and political dynamics.
Many of the 200,000 Egyptians in the Square are not members of any specific party yet they all agree on these two demands as do the numerous political groups that participated in the rally. They include: the Egyptian Popular Current, the Constitution Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Karama Party, the Free Egyptians Party, the Freedom Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists movement, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Maspero Youth Union, the “Ahmed Maher Front and Democratic Front”, part of the April 6 Youth Movement, the Youth for Justice and Freedom Movement, the Free Egyptian Movement, the National Association for Change, the Kifeya Movement, the Free Front for Peaceful Change and the Lotus Revolution movement
What was most clear to me, as I stood amongst the 200,000 Egyptians was that the Egyptian people will not give up until they get what they want. It has been nearly two years since their revolution started and it continues stronger than ever.
God Bless the Egyptian People with the will, the strength, the courage and the organizational prowess to carry on and TRIUMPH over those who want Egypt to remain dictatorial and downtrodden. Unfortunately they are many (inside Egypt, regionally and internationally) who are doing all they can to undermine Egypt’s blooming revolution towards an open democratic civil society. Their motives are many and heinous.
Yesterday the vast majority (75%) of Egyptian showed Pres. Morsi and the world in an unprecedented tour de force that we the people of Egypt will continue to have hope and will not give up on our dreams of freedom, justice and democracy.