Many people had warned me not to go to Tahrir Square, not to talk politics. Things are tense now– you’re foreign, American, they don’t want interference!
But the moment you set foot in Tahrir, everyone wants you to take their picture!
And as I walked around the square 10 days ago, I was most surprised by its joyful theatricality. One reason we love politics is that it is entertaining — and Egyptians like the girl at left are now leading the world in the citizens’ art of getting entertainment into politics.
So take my tour.
I have no idea what these guys are saying, but I love that guy’s smile. He’s so pleased to finally be expressing himself. And that’s the Tahrir spirit.
I’m betting this guy below is concerned with political prisoners. Awesome lid.
You gotta love the noose. I’m waiting for a commenter to tell me what the Arabic says. “Mubarak is a mummy, not a pharaoh… execute [him]” (Thanks to Siegried al-Haq!)
A lot of people are sporting Che stuff. I don’t know if you can see the Che figure on this guy’s hat. He’s holding up a red card to tell the SCAF (army command) to get out.
Here are a pile of books they’re selling on the revolution. One of the pictures on the cover is from the Day of the Camels. February 2. You’d never know from our media, but the Day of the Camels has become a legendary event in Egyptian history. Right now a trial is going on for the thugs ordered by Gamal Mubarak who rode the camels into Tahrir. I heard that they got 3000 Egyptian pounds (about $500) to ride em. Now they’re getting 8-12 years…
One of my favorite demonstrators. He’s wearing a sack covered in his slogans and chains draped on his hat. I believe he’s a Copt. Help me, Arabic speakers!
For a while he was dialoguin’ with a Muslim woman. And that’s Tahrir in a nutshell. Earnest debate.Again, not a clue what she’s saying, but I loved how elegant her sign was, how it fit her wingspan, and also the fact that she was on her own, bopping around Tahrir. Oh, she’s holding up a sura from the Quran: “verily the victory of God is near…” (Thanks Siegfried)
This guy had a lot to say!OK, now we’re coming to the Israel stuff. There’s a lot of Israel stuff in Tahrir. First, here’s a cartoon showing the Israeli embassy running out the Exit in fear of the Egyptian eagle. I think the eagle is standing on a bunch of bodies. I hope you can see the details.This guy was intense, with the Ray-Bans. And you’ll see he has a little English language section in his teaching which includes the statement, “It is behind Israel.” Which I think translates to: Israel is behind it! Hey pal, J’agree!
This is funny. There’s a grownup crouched behind this poster– but he has his kid on the side holding it up for World’s Funniest Home Video purposes. The sign says, “Film of the season, ‘the embassy’…” and goes on to celebrate the demonstration at the Israeli embassy (Siegfried, on the case). Now the puppetmaster is standing up, holding another kid on top of the poster, even as the first kid holds on. Sorry about my cropping. That’s a Scandinavian guy taking a photo, at left. EVERYONE in Tahrir wants you to take their photo!
OK, now you know: This girl was my favorite demonstrator. I loved her poster. I agreed with it without knowing what it meant. And now Siegfried tells me it says, “Riding prohibited” and the horse is labelled, “The Jan 25 revolution.” There’s a military guy flying off the horse and a mullah. (See top of post.) She was holding it up all over the square with her feet set just like that and that same serious look, and yes I like secular people, and I think that’s her dad at right.
The girl was part of a group of demonstrators who taped their mouths to symbolize the punishments for free expression under army rule.
This is funny. Some people came up to argue with the taped-mouth demonstrators, and the girl’s dad pulled the tape away from his mouth to argue back!
This bush is burning up with slogans:
Here’s a close-up, with gallows for Mubarak!
This one requires some explanation. I believe that’s a mother (in black) and daughter (purple hijab) demonstrating on behalf of a political prisoner (poster on the ground). When I came up to them, a guy warned me away. No pictures! I got frightened and walked away quickly. Remember, I’d been told, Do not get involved in Egyptian politics. Even friends warned me. Well, when the mom and daughter saw me walking away, they got really angry, and started yelling, and told that guy to STFU, they wanted me to take their picture. So I took a picture. Wish it was better…
This is the best part. The give-SCAF-a-red-card demonstrators formed a march out of Tahrir into the commercial streets. They were led by a couple of callers on horseback– on other guys’ shoulders. The horse guys all take turns, but the caller doesn’t. He’s the talent. And this guy was amazing. I hope you get a feeling for how charismatic he was from my photos. Clapping and waving.
He was on fire. He had me going and I didn’t know what he was saying.
Their little march came back into Tahrir as the sun was going down. Nice shot, huh. That’s my guy in the middle. TAHRIR!