Second Letter from Egypt: Egyptian D Day
Written by Luiz Gustavo Porfírio – PSTU
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 19:53
North-American imperialism is proud of the D-Day that put an end to World War II. Today we have in Egypt another D-Day. It is “The Day of Departure”. The day demonstrators want President Mubarak to leave the country. This time the D-Day is not in the French cold sea, but on the calm waters of the Nile River.
As a sacred day in Muslim calendar, Friday is a traditional Day to protest after the prayers around noon. That’s because an important part of Muslim Identity is Ummah, the feeling of unity among Muslim Community. If Muslims feel their community is being threatened, they will fight against it always on Friday.
On this Friday the unity feeling wasn’t only Muslim, but Christian too. Many scenes of Christians backing Muslims during their Salat – the prays – could be observed. But it didn’t become so famous what they were chanting during protests: “Muslim, Christian, together one hand!” showing better the unity feeling, they are willing to resist united.
On the “Day of Departure” there’s only one hand, but at least 2 million arms in Tahrir Square, organizers counted 3 million people, a real possibility if we consider the intense movement during the day. People of all types took part in it: some wearing worn-out turbans, others wearing hats, some with hard hats, and others with very clean taqiyahs, like a Muslim Kippah; some with long beards and some shaved; some wearing sweaters, coats, or abayads, a kind of man’s robe; women wearing hijabs, the veil, nigabs, wool and silk stripes, and hairs like Amy. All these types with only one goal: to change the history of Egypt and the Arabian world. Maybe the whole world! That’s what I could read in their minds while they asked me for my nationality, just before the obvious reference to Ronaldo, the soccer player.
Moaz is a young metal rock fan responsible for welcoming the foreigners in the barricades. I shook strongly his bandaged hand forgetting I was among people injured after many days of resistance. He explained me the security organization in Tahrir Square. I understand their need to ask for ID and inspect people while we go deeper inside the square, something they had learned after camel-riders charged against demonstrators last Wednesday – the scenes of Mubarak’s violence that shocked the world. I ask Moaz, a Led Zepellin fan, if the lessons they took from this all will continue after Mubarak and he answers me: “the organization will continue, the government has to be headed by the people”. A few hours after I got in, about 200 Mubarak supporters tried to approach and to throw stones on the demonstrators. A committee headed by Moaz pushed them back by 3 blocks and split themselves in many barricades to keep the aggressors away.
At the entrance controlled by Moaz’s guys there was a tank, with four soldiers smoking calmly. The tank was there to guard the entrance from militia attacks, but it was more like the pro-democracy activists were guarding the tank. Later I saw a circle of middle age men teaching political-life lessons to soldiers, who couldn’t avoid showing to be very interested. Curious, I asked Abdul Rahman – a former Egyptian Air employee and an activist trained in Latin language – why should the military want Mubarak down: “when he is down everybody will be happy. All the families, even the military families, they all have a couple of unemployed guys.” And continues in Spanish about how the new government should be: “No más militares” (No Army anymore). Mohammed, a 30 year old unemployed engineer, shows a similar conclusion: “The military won’t help the people, but they want the people to overthrow Mubarak”. A Mubarak puppet hanging from a high pole in the square shows that people don’t want him down, but up, and hanged.
The Army is the key factor on the whole situation, as long as the demonstrations are strong enough to overpower the hooligan option of Mubarak and his police. With this crisis the Army leaders know they can’t just follow an unwanted president. If they turn the protests into a sea of blood, they will stain forever the image of the institution defending a dictator almost down. Although the past of the Army in Nasser times includes violent repression against communists. Besides that the Army leaders know they can’t send their soldiers against the people that welcomed and thanked the military for their help against a corrupt and violent police.
After all, the young soldiers know well what people want: “Erhal”, Arabic for “Out”. Whatever people are doing in the square organization (security, supplies, medical treatment), when they hear “Erhal”, they all raise their arms and yell as loud as possible, not to forget why they won’t leave the Tahrir Square.
They are there, on the “D-Day”, to say goodbye to a murderer dictator and welcome the revolutionary spirit.
Thawra hatta an-nasr! (Revolution until the victory!)
Luiz Gustavo is a Brazilian historian studying Palestinian and Arabian struggle. He lived in Lebanon and other countries of Middle East. He’s a militant of IWL-FI and Brazilian PSTU and arrived to Egypt in February 2nd as a special correspondent for the Brazilian newspaper Socialist Opinion. He’s sending daily letters and tweets reporting the real situation in Egypt.