Monday, January 31, 2011

The Million Person March in Alexandria


We just came back from the protests. It was amazing! It was just amazing! A large section of the protesters were in front of the house so Mansour & I went down to join them. Mansour wearing his kufiyah and I in a sweater and jeans. There was a call for Asr prayers and many protesters stopped to pray. People started to throw newspapers from their balcony so protesters could put them on the streets to pray on.  What I saw was amazing. In the front of the prayers everyone was mixed, men and women. There was a section of women in the back as well (mostly older women and women in hijab), but even then, two rows of young men came and stood behind them to protect them and watch their bags, just in case there were pickpocket, or just for general protection really. It is not true what the media is saying about the Brotherhood leading these demonstrations. People are just praying. No one is leading, it is just everyone cooperating with each other peacefully and equally. It's just an amazing feeling.  

We were singing Biladi Biladi (the national anthem). We chanted "Imshee ba2a ya 3am. Khaleee 3andak shawat dam" (Leave Mubarak, Have some shame). People had a lot of signs and banners demanding that Mubarak leaves. People were handing out leaflets that said we won't stop until he goes. People were adamant that they would not leave the streets. 

When we walked by Roushdie Street we saw my cousin and walked with him until we reached Sidi Gaber (Alexandria Train Station). He had just finished talking to one of his friends in the same demonstration who was standing next to Nadi Itihad (Union Club at the opposite end of the city). If that is the demonstrations stretch than it was easily, 1 million people in that part of Alexandria. 

Later, we were told that al-Jazeera showed shots of a large demo on al-Kornaish (the coastline). In that case, we must have had more than a million protesters in Alex alone. 

One man, who looked like he had suffered a lot and had really had enough, was walking in the opposite direction of all the protestors. He was screaming, "I've been a donkey for 30 years. I can't feed my kids. I can't give them a proper education. I have no dignity. But not anymore. I'm going to be free!"

All along the main street in Alexandria, Abu Eer, the young men were standing in front of stores and houses to protect them, just in case there were any looters. Whenever people saw those young men, everyone would cheer and chant in favor of civil protection and civil resistance.Earlier this morning, in Zazinya neighborhood we saw a couple of teenage girls wearing gloves collecting all the garbage on the streets. Other youth were finding trucks to collect the garbage and help them clean the street. Even after the prayer I told you about, everyone picked up their own newspaper. You couldn't even tell that a second ago there had been thousands of newspapers on the streets. It was so clean.  

We were passing by tanks and even cheering for the army. They aren't stopping anyone at all. It's just amazing. All age groups, all classes, all men and women, kids, children. There are very old people walking, people are holding chairs to stop and rest. I've seen many people, young and old, on wheelchairs. No way the army would attack such a protest. There were so many women carrying their kids. I talked to a couple of young girls and I asked them why they were demonstrating. They said, this is our country and we want it back. These girls were with their parents, who are walking along with them - there are no objections to kids taking part in these demonstrations, actually the opposite is true. 

Mubarak is going to talk tonight. I think this is it. I think its the end. Amr Moussa is telling him to leave. Ahmad Zowail told him to leave. Farouk El-Baz told him to leave. Al-Baradei, everyone is on TV publicly telling him to leave. They just said the protesters are having a sit in until he goes - a sit in until Friday. We'll see.

I don't know how to explain how I feel. It's so overwhelming. Its a feeling of euphoria. I can't remember anything like this before. I remember things in the 60's but it was a certain age group, mostly students. Never ever have there been numbers like this. And like I said, all the ages and classes are united. 

The middle and upper-middle class who have businesses, who's businesses are  loosing a lot now, are there too. Those are people who are pretty comfortable under Mubarak, but they are equally angry about what Egypt has become under his rule. Everyone is on the streets.

I'm so so happy I am here. Okay, the first night, I was a bit scared. But now I wouldn't miss it for the world. I am so happy I am here. 

The TV said there is a pro-Mubarak protest. The highest estimates are 1000 people. Hahaha.  

I don't see any fear. That's the big difference. Any fear people had is gone. Everyone feels this is their country. Before everyone knew there was a small group of people who are in charge of everything, but now no one is scared. Everyone is doing what they can, helping in any way. Giving people water, distributing leaflets, everyone is so involved. The country is really in a standstill until something happens. When family was calling us earlier in the week they were telling us be careful be careful. Now everyone who calls us are saying we are so jealous of you! 

I picked up extra leaflets and I took a lot of pictures and videos. I can't wait to put them on the internet.

Picture courtesy of my cousin Mohamed.

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