Photo Essays

Tahrir Square on the 30th of November

Tahrir Square on the 30th of November

On Friday the 30th of November, I visited Tahrir Square early in the morning (between 9:30a.m to 12 noon) before the one-million man ‘Martyr’s Dream’ protest against President Morsi’s anti-democratic constitutional decree and the unrepresentative, Islamist-dominated, Constitutional Assembly.

This was my first time in Egypt in 3 years – and my first time at Tahrir Square. Arriving at Tahrir and witnessing the burnt down headquarters of the NDP was spectacular: the national Egyptian Museum representing our ancient history stands before a burnt down building that represents the fall of the former regime.

The National Democratic Party's burnt down HQ remains as a stinging reminder of Egypt's 2011 revolution
The National Democratic Party’s burnt down HQ remains as a stinging reminder of Egypt’s 2011 revolution

In order to enter the square you have to pass through a ‘civilian-manned’ checkpoint. The roads are blocked with metal barriers that are wrapped with barbed wire, and so there is no way to avoid this checkpoint. However, all they do at the checkpoint is check your I.D. I am not entirely sure what this aims to achieve, but when asked they stated that it is to avoid the entrance of ‘baltageya’ or thugs.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Civilian checkpoints at the entrance of the square

Upon passing the civilian checkpoints, you are met with huge banners and a sea of white tents in the middle of the square.

After passing the civilian checkpoint
The banner reads “Egypt is for All Egyptians”
The sign reads "Enough" and the name "Geeka" is written onto it in black. Geeka is a protester who was killed last week in clashes with security forces.
The sign reads “Enough” and the name “Geeka” is written onto it in black. Geeka is a protester who was killed last week in clashes with security forces.
This was hung from a lamp post.
This was hung from a lamp post. The writing on it reads “Egypt is too big for the Muslim Brotherhood”
The 'infamous' KFC. During the protests in 2011, it was often reported that the protesters were paid with American dollars and given free KFC meals in order to protest.
The ‘infamous’ KFC. During the protests in 2011, it was often reported that the protesters were paid with American dollars and given free KFC meals in order to protest.
As close as I could get to the tents where many activists were sleeping.
As close as I could get to the tents where many activists were sleeping.

However, one of the first things one will notice is the amount of merchants: Tahrir Square has become a ‘booming’ business opportunity for street merchants.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
Many street-stores are scattered across the square. This one sells fuul and it is apparent the merchant has capitalized on the revolution, calling his street cart “January 25 fuul”
SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
The banner “Downfall of the Constitutional Decree for our Martyrs.” Again, street-stores/merchants are quite prominent.
Not only do merchants sell food and water, but also this. The man promptly grabs your arm and starts drawing. You'd think it was 'free' - considering this is a protest zone after all and it would be the 'patriotic thing to do'.
Not only do merchants sell food and water, but also this. The man promptly grabs your arm and starts drawing. You’d think it was ‘free’ – considering this is a protest zone after all and it would be the ‘patriotic thing to do’.

What I really found quite interesting was the graffiti at the square. This isn’t simply vandalism but defines ‘street art’.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Graffiti that appears to be from earlier protests against the infamous "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube film which stirred outrage across the Arab and Muslim world.
Graffiti that appears to be from earlier protests against the infamous “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube film which stirred outrage across the Arab and Muslim world.
The cement blocks placed by security forces to defuse tension between the police and protesters has been turned into a huge smiley face.
The cement blocks placed by security forces to defuse tension between the police and protesters has been turned into a huge smiley face.

Near the graffiti stood a stark reminder of Al-Jazeera’s role in Egypt’s uprising. Al-Jazeera Mubasher’s (Live) office at Tahrir Square was burnt down and ransacked last week by angry protesters.

Al Jazeera Mubasher's burnt out office
Al Jazeera Mubasher’s burnt out office

Right under the office, a group of protesters were chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. It was at this location at 10a.m. where most protesters seemed to be gathered.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
The banner reads: “No to the Constitutional Decree. No to the immunity of the Constitutional Assembly. No to a new Dictator”
Protesters gathered around, singing songs and chanting against Morsi
Protesters gathered around, singing songs and chanting against Morsi

Protesters from all walks of life were scattered across the square: from farmers and hijab-wearing women, to young children and university students. Thinking I was a foreigner, many were quite keen to get their photos taken.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

Perhaps more surprising was the presence of tourists. Many appeared to be coming directly from the Egyptian Museum in small tour groups. Considering reports of violence and sexual harassment, I found that many of these tourists (and foreign journalists which were quite prominent) were very welcomed by the people.

One of the tour groups entering Tahrir Square
One of the tour groups entering Tahrir Square
SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA
A foreign journalist surrounded by curious Egyptians

Overall, this was an eye-opening experience. Even though I went before hundreds of thousands of Egyptians arrived at the square, it was an experience that proved that these protesters are not thugs or remnants of the former regime, but are Egyptians that truly care for the future of their country.

Egyptians Say "No To Dictatorship!"
Assiut Train Disaster: 51 Egyptian Children Killed

Subscribe to our newsletter


More in Photo Essays

Kasr Al-Nil Bridge, Cairo. Photo: Gehad Hamdy

In Photos: The Supermoon, As Seen From Egypt

Egyptian StreetsNovember 15, 2016
A Ramadan sweets shop advertises its products in Arabic and German

In Photos: Egyptian Media Designer Captures Traces of ‘Cairo in Berlin’

Egyptian StreetsNovember 10, 2016
rice-harvest-14

Rice Harvest Season Reveals Hopes, Suffering of Egyptian Farmers

Daily News EgyptOctober 19, 2016
10-photo-by-mohammed-el-saied

In Photos: The Unseen Sides of Egypt

Daily News EgyptOctober 13, 2016
Photo: Belal Darder

In Photos: Egypt’s Untold Hijab Stories

Belal DarderAugust 23, 2016
Processed with VSCO with c9 preset

35 Photos Exposing the Beauty of Cairo at Night

Hana GamalJuly 31, 2016
Photo: Khaled Mostafa

Syrian Women: Efforts and Ambitions to Cope in Turkey

Khaled MostafaMay 26, 2016
FotorCreated

In Photos: Remembering the Lives on EgyptAir Flight MS804

Egyptian StreetsMay 22, 2016
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2016 ES Media UG. All Rights Reserved.