Politics & Policy

Tahrir Square is Still Flooded

The Western media may have turned away, but the Egyptian people seem convinced there is more to be done in Cairo. They haven’t left Tahrir square. From Sharon Otterman and J. David Goodman: 


In Cairo, tens of thousands of Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square as much to renew the spirit of Egypt’s popular revolution, which resulted in Mr. Mubarak’s resignation on Feb. 11, as to press for new demands. The square felt like a carnival, filled with banners in Egypt’s national colors of black, white and red. Vendors sold cheese and bean sandwiches and popcorn, a man fried liver on a portable grill, and others sold revolutionary souvenirs, like miniature flags, stuffed animals, and stickers for sale.

The utopian spirit of the revolution, which had included people from all aspects of Egyptian society, was still evident, as secular leftists, members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and women wearing full Islamic veils with children on their arms circulated through the crowd. Ismael Abdul Latif, 27, a writer, chatted with the religious women, only their eyes showing, as they drew revolutionary posters.

“I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that we would be talking to a munaqaba”— as women in full veils are called — “in Tahrir Square,” he said. “A secular artist is having a political debate with a fully veiled lady and having a meaningful conversation. What’s the world coming to?”

But there were also signs of tension, as well as reminder that it was the military that ultimately remains in charge. Several hours into the demonstration, an army officer demanded that protesters dismantle the tents they were erecting in the center of the square, touching off a series of angry arguments.

There were fervent political demands as well, foremost among them, the resignation of the cabinet that Mr. Mubarak had appointed before his downfall, as well as the dismantling of the security apparatus, the release of prisoners still held under Egypt’s repressive emergency laws, and the prosecution of former leaders guilty of corruption.

George Ishaq, one of the founders of Kifaya, an early protest movement here, led chants through speakers, saying, “Our demand today is a presidential council in which civilians will take part. We want it to be one politician one judge, and one representative of the armed forces.”

“We are not leaving, he’s leaving,” the crowd chanted, referring this time to Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister, with the slogan that had foretold Mr. Mubarak’s fall. “Mubarak left the palace, but Shafiq still governs Egypt.”


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