Notes from Tahrir: June 30th
By Howaida Kamel, Cairo Community Manager
The protests against President Mohamed Morsi started on June 30th: Egyptians all over the country took to the streets to mark the one-year anniversary of the Muslim Brotherhood in power. The Tamarud "rebellion" campaign has been working for the past three months to collect signatures for their petition calling for the President’s immediate resignation; the group recently announced that it had collected 22,134,465 signatures. Media estimates claim that up to 33 million people stood in squares all over the country, in what BBC has titled the largest number of people to partake in a political protest ever.
In Tahrir, people have become familiar with how protests happen. Two years after the 2011 revolution and numerous protests later, there is a general feeling that this is going to be a fight, and June 30 is just day one. The stands for food, tea, water, soda, and chips were already in place all around the square and business was good. The festivities, dancing, and chanting, were located more on the side streets and entrances to Tahrir rather than in the square itself. What makes these protests different from those of two years ago, however, is that the people have decided from the start that they will settle for nothing except Morsi’s resignation and the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. The strength of the Egyptian people is as evident as ever as young, old, poor, rich, men and women stand together in the square.
For many people in the upper social classes, Sunday was their first time protesting. Protests had often included a group of the well-educated members of civil society, but this time there was a larger number of them congregated at the entrance of Tahrir, next to the Arab League headquarters.
Another interesting point about Sunday’s protests was that there was a huge support for the police and the army. On the way to Tahrir from Zamalek, before crossing the Kasr el Nile bridge, policemen had climbed on top of their police trucks and were singing and dancing, and protestors had even given them flags to wave while chanting "El shorta wel sha3b f 2ed wahda” (the police and the people are in one hand). This same chant was repeated in the square for the army: helicopters continued to circle over Tahrir every ten minutes and occasionally drop flags over the crowd. At night, everyone with a laser pointer would point it up and the helicopter was lit by little green dots that would follow it on its path over the square. In those moments, everyone in Tahrir would stop what they were doing, look up, and cheer. It is hard to describe such a feeling of solidarity.