Saturday, January 28, 2012

My thoughts on #Jan28 2011: The Egyptian Friday of Anger

I can't imagine it's been a year already since that day, too much is still happening all around me on so many levels.
From the Revolution in Egypt to traveling to the U.S for the first time to talk about my experience, and then to find myself involved in the Occupy Movement.

I keep saying I will never forget these days and that I will sit down one day and write everything down.

Looking at the news and hearing from my family and friends it kills me that I'm not in Egypt right now while all of this is happening but I keep telling myself I've had a hectic year already. 
I know I needed a break and needed to stay away from being on the ground for a bit but that never really happened.

In any case Jan the 28th is a day I don't wanna ever forget, I don't want to muss any piece of detail I've seen, done, or felt in it and it's been a year since it happened already.

On Jan 28th night 2011 I remember I was talking on skype with my friends and relatives overseas telling them about what's going in Egypt right now and that we are planning a massive day of action called the Friday of Anger when the internet went down around 1 am in the morning.
 I remember that I went crazy, but by then I realized it's serious.

Friday's morning I prepared my bag for the day with water, scarfs, masks and my camera. Then I had a big fight with my dad when I was trying to go out. 
He didn't want us to leave, he locked the door on us and asked my mom to leave so that he could deal with it but we were so stubborn, we left the house and didn't tell him where we are headed. 

I didn't wait for my sister and left on my own, prayed in the biggest mosque in Abbaseya and then came out after prayer. There were hundreds of cops and security forces blocking the way to the square and we had to take another route.

 The numbers of ordinary people who marched with us to Tahrir were unbelievable. We marched across my neighborhood for over than 3 hours and from a neighborhood to another people kept joining us and cheering for us from their windows. The whole thing was extremely organic and unlike anything I have ever seen in my entire life.

The security forces kept tear gasing us and chasing us everywhere we go but we kept marching nonetheless.
  We arrived to Ramses square after a few hours and then the scene became really ugly.
 Tear gas, fires, burnt vehicles, injured people all over the place. The ugly crazy sound of the police cars sirens contributed to the madness.

I was sneezing and coughing nonstop, I became blinded  due to the effect of the gas and for an hour I was walking with my brother and sister and they were holding my hands because I couldn't open my eyes.
 People kept coming from everywhere, we stood on the bridge to watch and we couldn't believe how big it was getting.

After hours of fighting the police backed off and the crowds started marching again towards our destination: Tahrir around 5- 6 pm after sunset prayer.

That was the most beautiful moment in the entire day, no more shooting, no more police, they're all gone.
It was beautiful to not feel scared while everything around was burning and the smoke clouds covered the air and you could see the fire on the horizon.

We were exhausted and wasted but we felt the streets were ours.

Nobody there except for us, the protesters shouting slogans and the echoes were all over the place. 

No media presence at all, and the security forces were absent completely as well.  

No means of transportation, no public buses, they shut down the underground, the buses, the taxis were rarely seen and Cairo was becoming a burnt ghost city.
We kept walking to Tahrir then heard that the army is down in the streets and that's why we had to find a way to get back home before they arrive to where we are.

I was scared of the army coming down for some reason, I had a negative feeling about the army unlike everyone else but I wasn't sure about anything so I kept it for myself.

But I became sure they are not on our side a week later when I was detained and investigated by them. Later on I found out that the army came to support the police in the killing but they were overwhelmed by the protesters size and had to change the strategy.

We didn't talk to our parents for the entire day because they cut all the communications and I started to feel guilty we just left. I wanted to continue to the square but then we just walked back home, the three of us, exhausted ,dusty and full of gas. 

What happened afterwards was a different story.
Now I'm going to share some of the pictures I took on the 28th of Jan 2011:

People marching for the first time ever in my district Abbaseyah after Jumaah prayer towards Tahrir in the alternative rout we took

On the bridge looking at all the marches that kept coming to Ramses square headed to Tahrir

Organizing the traffic in my district during the march towards tahrir.

The sight of these ordinary apolitical people joining us spontaneously was priceless and so encouraging

The Ramses square battle where we got stuck for hours until we defeated the police and marched toward the square
In Ramsis Square the protesters managed to trap the security forces inside an abandoned shop after they were shooting at people for hours.

This is an important collection of footage from this remarkable day from all over the country, some of them I'm sure where not shown in the western media.
Make sure to get a chance to see it to get the full picture on how the day looked like..


We will never forget, we will never forgive.

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