It became the physical and symbolic heart of a revolution, but have Egyptians kept the spirit of Tahrir alive?
Filmmaker: Yasser Ashour
“I love you Egypt …
Every morning and each evening,
I keep expressing how much I love you …
Your love heals my wounds …
I love you Egypt …”
An Egyptian song
Keep readinglist of 4 items
On January 25, 2011, Egyptians took to the streets. Just 11 days earlier they had seen Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali flee his country and now they sought a revolution of their own.
As the people of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, marched, they converged on one place – a place that was to become the centre of a growing storm and the physical and symbolic heart of the revolution.
“Tahrir Square became a symbol, just like Bourguiba Street in Tunis,” explains political activist Ahmed Hassan. “It was said that the Tunisians took some time before entering Bourguiba Street. The Egyptians went immediately to Tahrir Square. We wanted to choose a central place.”
More than 800 people were killed and over 6,000 injured during the uprising. At times the square took on the appearance of a battlefield. But as a ‘new republic’ began to emerge in Tahrir, the people became organised and set up their own facilities to sustain their revolution.
As casualties mounted, a mosque in the square was turned into a makeshift hospital.
“Doctors started to come …. We sent out a call for doctors specialised in all fields to come to Tahrir Square,” explains volunteer doctor Amr Mostafa.
An information centre, ‘ministries’, security and even a radio station were established.
This was a revolution for Egyptians from all walks of life. Citizen searched citizen to check that no weapons were smuggled in and it was all done with a smile and an apology.
“The entire society was united. All these people had the same goal and faced the same danger,” explains Ehab al-Kharrat of the Evangelical Church. “I’ve never imagined myself reading the bible in Tahrir Square and addressing some one million Muslims. At least 100,000 of those Muslims heard me and recited after me: ‘Oh Lord, bless my country’.”
It was in Tahrir Square that people showed the best of themselves; where, according to political activist Zahra Abd Elgawad, “freedom, security, justice and equality” reigned.
This film shines a light on Tahrir Square, a place where hopes for a more perfect society were born – hopes that have yet to be realised.
“In the Republic of Tahrir, Egypt was above all else,” says Ahmed Hassan. “When Muslims prayed, Christians guarded them. Muslims listened to the Christian mass. There was an unprecedented state of unity.”