janeiro 2011



Relatos do Egito

Written by , Posted in Urbanidades

Os protestos no Egito contra o ditador Hosni Mubarak estão esquentando. Recebi, através de uma amiga, o relato da egípcia Dana Omran sobre o primeiro dia de manifestações. Pedi autorização para publicar e ela topou. Peço desculpar por não ter traduzido, falta de tempo. Se alguém se empolgar a fazer, é só me mandar que substituo aqui.

It started in Tunis, sparked protests in Sana’a, triggered tensions in Tripoli and ended with chanting in Cairo. Some are calling it a revolution others and uprising. I’m not sure it’s a revolution, but something amazing happened here today. Amidst the acrid smell of tear gas, vinegar and cigarette smoke, there was a whiff of hope for the first time in over 30 years in Egypt.

Today was the National Police day so the whole country was on holiday. Grassroots organizations and facebook revolutionaries declared today a “National Day of Anger” – a day that everyone thought would end up with a few hundred protestors at most and a couple of arrests and brutal police beatings. The usual.

Maybe it was the rest of the region erupting in anger or maybe it’s a delayed reaction to our recent fraudulent elections, but something got people out in the streets today. By noon a couple of thousand protestors walked through Shubra (a middle class neighborhood in Cairo) and began chanting for the downfall of the regime. My sister was a critical part of the first wave of protestors along with a group of lawyers who were there to make sure that no one was unlawfully arrested. To see her on Al Jazeera check this out (she’s the red head in the beige t-shirt):

With each hour that passed a few more thousand joined and eventually the protestors walked across Kasr El Nil Bridge to Tahrir Square, the throbbing heart of downtown Cairo. As the crowds grew, security police threw tear gas, but for the most part the demonstration was non-violent.
Throughout all this, not one word was mentioned on Arab satellite TV. By 4 PM, Twitter was blocked and one of the main mobile carriers (Mobinil) had disrupted all calls in and around the Tahrir Square area. The government tried to stop the organizers from communicating, but despite the scare tactics, people still went down the streets in protest.

There was a lull at around 6 PM and I watched in awe as the resourcefulness and generosity of the Egyptian people shone through. One guy drove his motorcycle with hundreds of loaves of baladi bread and started distributing it. Others came in with bags of foul and taameya sandwiches and koshari to feed the hungry who had been out since noon without food. Young men carried boxes of bottled water on their shoulders and gave it to the thirsty chanting masses. Cigarettes were passed around and face masks were handed out. One man recited beautiful poetry about the struggle. Most amazing of all, people walked around picking up the trash in the street with their bare hands. This was an Egypt we rarely see…but man was it beautiful to watch.

By about 8 PM Al-Jazeera got access to Tahrir and beamed images of us around the world, causing even more people to make their way to downtown and the crowds to swell to record levels. By 10 PM thousands of people flooded into Tahrir square from all directions. I stood with over 100,000 of my countrymen in defiance of the naysayers, the government and the tens of thousands of security police and I sang my national anthem with pride for the first time in my life: “Belady Belady Belady, Laky Hoby wa Fouady” (“My country, my country, my country you have my love and my loyalty”).

The crowd began thinning out around midnight as people got colder and the chanting lost direction. I left with my group around then to get some food and water…so that’s where my reporting ends. From friends who stayed behind, we heard that things turned ugly around 1 AM because the volume of people had shrunk to a manageable size and the police were just so damn hungry and tired (at some point the police confiscated over 10,000 falafel sandwiches that a group of organizers had bought for the crowds so that they could eat it themselves). More tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, and we’re hearing reports that the wounded are being refused from some of the public hospitals…

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. One thing is for sure, the government is pretending like this never happened. The headline of the main newspaper tomorrow, Al-Ahram, will be about the protests in Lebanon (nothing about Egypt). But at least I’m going to bed tonight knowing that we finally broke the silence.

God bless my motherland,
Dana Omran
January 25, 2011

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  1. Antonio

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