Archive for February 3rd, 2011

Tahrir Square protests: ‘For everyone here, there’s no turning back

‘Booker prize-nominated author of The Map of Love says Egypt’s anti-government protesters are proud of what they have done

by Ahdaf Soueif, Tahrir Square, Tuesday 1 February 2011

A great cry goes up from the square: “Irhal! Irhal!” (Leave! Leave!) Everybody is looking in the same direction. You follow their gaze to see a long banner unfurling, falling gracefully from the sixth-floor balcony of an art deco building. We read: “Do us a favour: leave!” Holding it from the balcony is a young woman with big hair. She is jumping up and down and holding up her hand in a victory salute. The crowd salute back: “Irhal! Irhal!”

Four generations, more than a million people (according to the army count at 2pm) are here. They are all doing what they have not been able to do for decades; each and every one is having their say in their own way and insisting on being counted. Their dominant demand, of course, is for Mubarak to step down.

In the regime’s response to this people’s revolution they have displayed the same brutality, dullness, dishonesty and predictability that have characterised their 30-year rule. They have shot and gassed their citizens, lied to them and about them, threatened them with F16s, tried to foist a “new” cabinet on them – everything except the decent thing: go. Read the rest of this entry »


Egypt protesters react angrily to Mubarak’s televised address

‘How dare he talk to us like children?’ say demonstrators. ‘If he’s here until September then so are we’

by Jack Shenker and Peter Beaumont in Cairo, and Harriet Sherwood in Alexandria
The Guardian, Wednesday 2 February 2011

The crowd had rigged up a huge screen to show al-Jazeera. Mubarak’s speech was broadcast live. As he announced that he would not be standing for another term, the rally exploded in anger.

The screen was pelted with bottles and the cry “Irhal, irhal” went up repeatedly: “Leave, leave”. It was taken up by the hundred thousand people who thronged Tahrir Square. At one point demonstrators held up their shoes to the screen – an insulting gesture in Arab culture.

None of them were appeased by Mubarak’s announcement. If anything, they were emboldened to step up their protests and to push their demands further. Many were saying that not only must Mubarak leave immediately but that the whole of his National Democratic party regime had to go and should be put on trial.

“If he’s here until September then so are we,” said Amr Gharbeia, an activist who is camping out in the square.

“Perhaps this would have been enough to appease people a few days ago but it’s much too late now. He has to leave and he has to leave today,” added Ibraheem Kabeel, a 26-year-old physician.

“This has only made us angrier. He must leave today. He can’t wait until September. Mubarak’s plane is ready,” said Ahmed Defouki, a 30 year old pharmacist. “Everybody here has different opinions politically but on this issue we are united: Mubarak leaves today.”

A new energy infused the crowds. People seemed more excited, sensing that they could bring Mubarak down. Another protester added: “This is the Tunisian scenario, where Ben Ali promised to stand down eventually but was quickly removed.” Read the rest of this entry »