Tahrir Square: ‘This time we’re here to stay’

Ask about the “new” revolution in Egypt and activists will say the last one never ended, and won’t.

Gigi Image Egypt story
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have gathered in Tahrir square to voice their anger and frustration [AFP]

Pro-democracy activists in Egypt have launched a sweeping campaign – on the ground, online and otherwise – to urge protesters to flood back into Tahrir Square and take back the area in a new nationwide wave of peaceful demonstrations.

“The revolution never ended. The revolution will go on until all the people’s demands are met,” said Abdelrahman Ghareeb, a 26-year-old software engineer, who has been attending rallies in Tahrir Square since the onset of the revolution on January 25. 

Some six months later, July 8 has been called the beginning of a “Million Man” protest, an uprising activists hope will be the largest since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in early February. The aim is to demonstrate the widespread public outcry to put former government officials on trial and rein in the military council that has governed Egypt since Mubarak’s removal.

Mona Seif, an activist, 24

As Mona Seif, a human rights activist, wrote on her Facebook page: “This time I will be in Tahrir from midnight, this time I am here to stay.”

Seif, an organizer of the “Say ‘No’ to Military Trials for Civilians” campaign, has brought attention to numerous civilian military arrests since the revolution. 

The “Million Man” push gained momentum from clashes in Tahrir Square between security forces and protesters on June 29 that left more than 1,036 people injured. 

The violence was followed by the riots that erupted in Suez as protesters tried to storm a security headquarters after a court confirmed the bail of seven police officers accused of killing protesters during Egypt’s earlier uprising.

Many Egyptians believe these events, and others like them, demonstrate that nothing has changed since the revolution begun five months ago.

Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist, 24

In the lead up to July 8 protests, many activists changed their profile pictures on social networking websites, notably Facebook, to a picture with a card with “July 8” written on it.

“We are going [to Tahrir] because none of the main demands have been met, which are freedom, social justice and equality,” activist Gigi Ibrahim, 24, told Al Jazeera.

“The corrupted people have not been charged at all, starting from Mubarak and going all the way to the policemen that killed the protesters,” she added.

Ibrahim continued: “There have been five months now since the revolution started and the government and supreme council have shown no signs that they are are willing or thinking [about] taking take steps to deal with our demands.

“We are coming back to Tahrir and other squares to put the pressure all over Egypt to demand the principles that the people fought for on January 25.”

Noor Noor, an activist, 20

Activist Noor Noor, 20, is discouraged that nothing has changed in Egypt since the revolution. He is concerned that the interim military government is manipulating the narrative of the now-iconic uprising.

“It feels like they are trying to fool us into believing that the revolution ended on February 11 when Mubarak left. We are not seeing any positive steps toward change,” Noor said.

“We want to remind people that the revolution is just beginning and it needs all our efforts to achieve all our demands.

Ghareeb, the software engineer, said he is going back to Tahrir to protest what he considers a blatant government attempt to use the judiciary to protect government cronies and incarcerate activists.

“The military trials of civilians need to stop. Hundreds of people are behind bars right now without a fair trial. Some of them [are] not just innocent but also revolutionaries who put their lives on the line during and after the revolution for this country. We’ve been under military rule for far too long. It ends now,” he said.

As for the threat of violence at the hands of government forces and pro-government supporters, journalist Sarah Abdelrahman, 23, said it can’t be worse than in crackdowns earlier this year.

“I am not scared of brutality because we’ve faced everything so far, and we will do whatever it takes to get our country’s freedom,” she told Al Jazeera on July 8.

“We’re more than prepared for clashes. They have weapons, we have our dreams.” 

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Source: Al Jazeera