Today, May 27, 2011, Egyptians took to the streets in different parts of their country to affirm their continued commitment to the revolution that began on January 25, 2011. In Tahrir Square, approximately 150,000 protesters gathered to sing, laugh, chant, and assert their various demands. Preparations for the demonstrations began late Thursday night / early Friday morning and by mid-afternoon there was no doubt that a diverse array of Egyptians wanted much more than the resignation of Husni Mubarak: they wanted a new Egypt and had very specific ideas of what that new Egypt would look like. While we had hoped to report on the protest through more prose, we found that certain themes and demands were so dominant in Tahrir Square today that it made more sense to give voice to them through videos and photos alone. Our only deliberate intervention is in the last video, which was filmed and edited by the authors, entitled "Tahrir . . ."
We have tried to provide (rushed) English translations of signs, banners, speeches, and interviews. In the interest of making these images and videos accessible as soon as possible, the translations are rushed.
Interview with journalist protester Ghada Nabil:
Bassam: What are you here for?
Ghada: I am here because there are a lot of things I am not ok with. I am afraid for the revolution. I feel like it is being hijacked. The corruption continues in all the institutions of the state, in the municipalities, in the governorates . . . in the media--and specifically in the national newspapers. Nothing has changed, [it is] as if January 25th had not happened. The slowness [of the prosecutorial process] and the leaking of information about the possibility of a pardon for the deposed president is what we do not accept after the blood that spilled in Tahrir Square and all the governorates of Egypt. There is a need to prevent all forms of external interference, whether it is from Saudi Arabia in order to prevent the prosecution of the deposed president or from the United States or from Israel. There is a need to activate all the demands of the Youth of the Revolution Coalition. There needs to be a cleansing of the judiciary, as it remains to be viewed as a fortress whose decisions and rulings are not subject to critique. This is scary because have fears in regards to some of the judges that are presiding over financial corruption cases as well as those of the spilling of Egyptian blood by the members of Husni Mubarak`s government. There is a need to stop sectarian strife, that we notice is becoming more active in a hysterical way to undermine the revolution. We have confirmed information--I am a journalist--that indicate that the Mossad and--here in Egypt--the remnant of the National Democratic Party (NDP) are active in undermining the revolution through national strife . . . There is also a need to save the revolution from being hijacked by any movement with an eye for a non-civilian state. We will not accept this. The masses of tolerant Egyptians will not accept this and will offer their blood for the sake of a civilian state; a completely civilian states for all, and not for one group or movement.
Bassam: What does a civilian state mean?
Ghada: The civilian state is one that I can be a part of with my religion, with my beliefs, with the freedom of what I wear and [the freedom of] manners, movement, thought, writing, and achievement without interference in the name of religion, irrespective of which religion; whether it is the religion of the majority or the religion of the minority. We do not what a religious state, irrespective of the religion, and certainly not a military state. The state that Egyptians martyred themselves for in this square on January 25th, that they have been fighting for for years, and that blood has been spilt for for many many years can only be a civilian state.
Interview with young protester:
Bassam: If you please, why are you here?
Protester: In the name of god, most merciful, most benevolent. We came to the Square today to affirm that the revolution is still on the ground, that the Egyptian people are still here, and that the revolution is not just [by] Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists only but that the youth of the revolution are still here. We are here to ensure the demands of the revolution, our legitimate demands. Atop of these is the prosecution of the leaders of the previous corruption. And [if] god blesses us, we will continue with the revolution while the army and people are hand in hand. And [if] god blesses us, all us Egyptians are hand in hand and we are not waiting on anything from anyone.
Bassam: What does this sign mean?
Protester: This sign expresses several points. First of all, it says to the Chief of Staff Samy `Anan--who gives orders to Tantawi--that he should remind Tantawi that the revolution is still on the ground of the Square. We haven`t left. We are still here, every Friday, in a peaceful manner. We are still here. They should remember that this ground is ours. We will die on it until we--god willing--continue to achieve our demands. Thank you.
More from the interview with Ghada Nabil:
Bassam: If you please, when you speak about a civilian state and the Muslim Brotherhood, do you differentiate between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists?
Ghada: I used to differentiate [between them]. Even though I haven`t read much of their literature, I did differentiate. In the revolution, we felt that we are all one. There were some amazing positions from Salafists--and they used to say [of themselves] that they were Salafists as opposed to us thinking they were by virtue of the[ir] dress code or looks--and they were exemplary with us. Some of their positions were really humanitarian, almost angelic. I assumed--prior to the resignation of the deposed president--that I was the one that was fundamentalist in my thoughts towards the other who is different. This is my responsibility. After the revolution and the events that happened, which involved the baltagiyyah and the Salafists and others, I developed a conviction that the difference [between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists] was minor so long as the Muslim Brotherhood were willing to join hands with the Salafists. I`ve repeated things, not from myself but things that I heard from friends--irrespective of whether they were Muslim or Coptic--that . . . there is coordination with the goal of showing some of the Salafists as having a violent method (bloody or fierce) towards the other that is different for the sake of a specific result that is in the interest of the Muslim Brotherhood. Meaning that when these are the two most active movements with a presence on the street, one of them--or parts of their followings or many of their symbols--incite violence against others while the other [movement] says "no" to that and that they stand for a civilian state with an Islamic marja`iyyah--these are the Muslim Brotherhood--people will fall into the lap or direction of those that appear in this case to be more rational . . . yes, less bloody, or that condemn violence. But what is violence? This is something that is very important. Violence is not only that I cary a weapon against you. Violence is that I force you into what you do not want and do not believe in. This is violence. The issue is the invoking of god into every issue and every thing. By the way, I am speaking responsibly as I have written an article [about it] in Dustour al-asli yesterday. That`s it.
Bassam: Thank you.
Ghada: Thank you to you.
Video of one of the stage speakers:
First speaker: Israel, they are the ones that called for the pardoning of Mubarak. Therefore, we say that the true charge against Husni Mubarak is high treason. He must be prosecuted for high treason. And we say to you, we say to you, where is Hussein [last name unclear]? Israel, where is Hussein [last name unclear]? Oh Saudi Arabia, where is Hussein [last name unclear]? Oh Gulf states, where is Hussein [last name unclear]? Oh America, where is Hussein [last name unclear]? What is the connection between this ruler who steels and Netanyahu, and between Obama and Mubarak? Those who defend them are the enemies of Egypt. We want those thieves to be tried publicly here in Tahrir Square.
We also call on you [to explain] how do you claim to lead the Egyptian Revolution having not yet acknowledged the martyrs of the Egyptian revolution. We have heard the minister of interior saying that they are [unclear]. They do not recognize except the dead from what they describe as the martyrs of the police. We want the families of martyrs to be awarded the first medal for the Egyptian Revolution immediately. This is the first demand of the Egyptian Revolution.
We also say to you, why have you shifted--in all honestly--against the Revolution after the Egyptian people stood against Israel. What is the secret surrounding the suppression of protesters in front of the Israeli embassy? How is it that these protests are suppressed in front of the Egyptian embassy [sic] while [at the same time] Husni Mubarak and all the thieves are treated with the utmost [unclear] and calm? We do not want a civilian to spend [even] a day in front of the military courts. Why do you suppress the protests [that were] in front of the Israeli embassy? Are you saying to them, "We are defending Israel so leave us to do as we will with the Egyptian people?" This is the same message of Husni Mubarak. It is the same message as his. We say to them, "We insist that our first enemy is Israel." What is the secret, after the suppression of the protesters in front of the Israeli embassy, surrounding Obama and the United States coming in and saying [that] the the military aid will not be touched? Is this the reason for the selling [out] of the Egyptian Revolution? We are still there in Sinai [where] the martyrs remain martyrs of Sinai. They have not been recognized like the other Egyptian martyrs. All those detained must be released as well as all those that are being persecuted in military courts. We will not sell [out] the Egyptian Revolution. Sinai is part of Egypt, and we must defend its national character. And we say that our message is: the people want the fall of military rule. The people want the fall of military rule! The people want the fall of military rule!
Second speaker: There is a list identification card for.
More from interview with Ghada Nabil:
Ghada: This is the priority. That there not emerge a sectarian war, god willing. That we achieve all the demands of the Revolution that youth, elderly, and children martyred themselves for here in the Square and all the governorates of Egypt. We cannot forget women in this whole cause. The woman is what connects all the revolutions. Either she is oppressed through an oppressive movement or she is championed by the revolution after a long oppression. Now is the time for her to have an awaking. During the Revolution, we were all united here: the Salafists, liberals, seculars, and socialists. All the citizens, from all the groups, generations, and ages. We were. Unfortunately, we were exemplary with each other but that exemplary behavior did not continue after that. This is what caused us to come down to the Square today: a new constitution; combatting sectarian strife; demanding the military council to implement the demands of the Revolution; quick trials; cleansing the judiciary and media; and the constitution first; and ensuring that there is no external interference from any side that seeks to undermine and corrupt the Revolution; and also to not pardon the deposed president. He must receive a judicial ruling and [only] after that if the people want to pardon him due to his age then let it be. I am for this. Someone else might not agree, because there are martyrs that have families that might ask for punishment. This is my personal opinion. But a pardon simply because Saudi Arabia or Israel intervene for for the sake of a pardon after he had beaten and killed us--meaning a pardon without trial--would mean that the Revolution did not happen. That sums it up. That would mean canceling the revolution and insulting the blood of the martyrs.
Bassam: What is your opinion on fanning the the flame of sectarianism through the burning of the church and these types of acts?
Ghada: I believe that there is a sectarian problem in Egypt that has been present and suppressed not just from the time of Husni Mubarak but also from before. It is a real problem. There is an oppression. I say this is a Muslim Egyptian. I know there is oppression and I have dealt with it through Christian friends that fight it. This does not negate that there are attempts by the National Democratic Party (NDP) and other elements to feeding this current of strife in order to turn everything upside down in the interest of what was before January 25th. This is one of the most crucial things that can kill the revolution and kill Egypt.
Bassam: Are you optimistic about the upcoming months?
Ghada: I try to be optimistic. I must be optimistic. I must be optimistic. I must be optimistic. The people that were martyred, we say there is over a thousand. The unofficial estimates [of deaths] from before the revolution, during the resignation, and after put it at over one thousand Egyptian martyrs. This is separate from the injured. The people, that was willing to pay a blood tax is willing to pay another blood tax for the sake that its freedom and dignity not be kidnapped or insulted.
Bassam: In your opinion, will there come a time after some of the domestic achievements to deal with some of the regional issue, amongst them the Israel-Palestine issue, in a different way?
Ghada: In what sense?
Bassam: For example, in your opinion does the majority of the people, irrespective of whether they do anything or not, support the agreement [with Israel]?
Ghada: The people were accepting of the agreement despite the fact that they were not consulted on it. When Sadat wen to Jerusalem, he did not consult the people. Because the People`s Assembly has always incased and represented the will of the president, whether it was Husni Mubarak, Sadat, or whomever it may be. And the people know this. The people did not have a say in Sadat`s gaining to Jerusalem. And [the people] did not have a hand or word in the gas agreement. I personally was against the agreement, because I have an uncle that was martyred in 1973 during the October War. In spite of this, I am for the continuation with the agreement--Camp David--because Egypt has to stand on its own two feet and strengthen itself internally and regionally. But I am against the gas agreement with Israel. It needs to be completely cancelled. Every summer the lights go out in our homes because there is pressure from the electricity consumption. Lights go out in our homes and we see that the street lights are on at noon. This agreement must be cancelled. So long as the do not cancel it, they are going to see groups of people blow up the gas pipeline every once in a while. We were not consulted on this disgraceful agreement that they were benefiting from in the billions. This is one thing and Camp David is another. Regarding the Palestine issue, there is not a person in Egypt that does not support the Palestinian cause. But do want to go now to Jerusalem and liberate it? Let us liberate Egypt first and feel confident about our internal matters--do some in-house cleaning--and prevent the occurrence of sectarian strife and attend to the situation of the Egyptian woman before we speak about what is outside of Egypt.
"Tahrir . . ." Remix by the Authors
Some images from the day:
["Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were mistaken." Quranic reference.]
[Mubarak says: "I will stay in Sharm al-Shaykh until my last heart beat."]
[People exiting the Square.]
[Right sign reads: "The criminal is in Sharm al-Shaykh; The victims are in government hospitals." Left sign reads: "We demand the prosecution of Husni Mubarak.]
["My problem with the military council is that I don`t know the people in it! I want a civilian leadership council whose people are known and that I can hold accountable!"]
[View of one of the stages from within Tahrir Square.]
[Demonstrators watching a musical performance on one of the stages. Sign on right reads: "Do your duty Your Excellency the Field Marshal." Sign on left reads: "Security now. Cleansing now. Or else we will return to the Square."]
[Demonstrators watching a musical performance and laughing at the lyrics. Video to be posted below soon.]
["Sharm al-Shaykh is Egyptian, not for the president that is a thief."]
["No to military rule. We want a revolutionary national civilian leadership council."]
[Text in red reads: "We are a group from the Egyptian youth and people. Our goal is the achievement of the demands of the revolution. Listen to us and, if you will, understand us?!"]
[Tree covered with various demands, advice, and political statements.]
["The constitution first."]
[View from inside Tahrir Square looking out.]
[View from inside Tahrir Square looking out.]
[Top of banner: "The smiling martyr (unknown name and parents)." See next picture for bottom of banner.]
[Bottom of banner: "They and their accomplices killed me." See previous picture for top of banner.]
["Against the revolution." Faces of public figures, including actors and singers.]
[Left column: "The Attorney General: the private lawyer of State Security." Right column: "The Public Prosecutor: the private prosecutor of the corrupt." Each column lists the allegations against each personality.]
[Mubarak`s sign reads: "Have you seen what happened Suzie. . . what the revolution did to us . . . it succeeded and god aided them against us, and now they will reveal the hidden." Bottom of banner reads: "We want the prosecution of this oppressor that corrupted our lives for thirty years."]
["The people want to cleanse the media."]
["Do you know that the Red Sea Governorate is part of the Arab Republic of Egypt and that it is the biggest corruption whole?"]
[Protester sitting atop a pedestrian crossing sign.]
[Top of banner reads: "The Front for the Cleansing of Media."]
[Protesters sitting atop a traffic light in Tahrir Square.]
[View from within Tahrir Square looking out.]
["Oh Tantawi, tell `Anan there is still a revolution in the Square."]