I am only 22 years old, and Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron fist for my entire life. But during the protests, I saw a new Egypt emerging – my Egypt. Men didn’t deal with me as a woman but as a fellow citizen. In place of the normal class and religious divisions, I only saw acceptance.
“The people want the downfall of the regime” was the demand that rang in every Egyptian street. Everywhere, a sea of red, white, and black rippled endlessly amid angry chants and occasional patriotic songs. Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags brushed up against synthetic burqas. Priests called for freedom alongside sheikhs. Young children tugged gently at their grandfathers’ hands, wanting to paint their little faces with the colors of the flag. Farmers, judges, doctors, workers, young, old – people flocked from all over Egypt – for different reasons, with one cause.
These were the scenes that colored Tahrir (Liberation) Square and the rest of Egypt for the 18 days before the Mubarak regime finally fell.
When I decided to join the protests on Friday, Jan. 28, I had no idea what I was embarking on. Although I have a BA in both history and political science, and thus consider myself to be fairly politically aware, I had never engaged in a protest or belonged to a political party. In Egypt, as in much of the world, textbook politics is one thing, and political participation is another. As an upper-middle class Egyptian, I lead a comfortable life compared to the 42 percent of my compatriots who, according to the UN, live under the poverty line. However, this wasn’t enough to keep me off the streets.
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