A personal memoir of my experience of the #25Jan Revolution
This is my personal memoir about the 18 days that altered the face of Egypt (and possibly the world) forever. This is a personal record of my experience of the revolution, reflecting the very small part I played and lamenting that I didn’t have a bigger part in it.
Prior to the 25th no one imagined what will take place during the next 18 days. I personally was not on facebook during the 4 month prior to the revolution, my account (among several others) got deactivated prior to the last fraudulent parliamentary elections.
That’s why before the 25th I haven’t heard or received any invitations to the protests of the 25th of January, I heard about it through the opposition newspapers, but I didn’t think about joining because I thought that in the end, it will be just another small protest like hundreds I have been to before. About five years ago I took the decision not to take part in protests anymore, and committed myself to virtual activism, trying to cause change through writing and saving my energy for charity works, to affect the immediate social circles I deal with.
Tuesday the 25th of Jan
A normal day at the office, mid day we started hearing about mass protests in downtown, but since this was not that unusual, we discarded it as a solitary incident, but by the evening the news networks were starting to buzz with the news of mass protests, and it was starting to look like this is not an ordinary protest.
That night I stayed working till the next day because I had a big project due the next day. And around dawn I joked with one of my colleagues teasing him “what will we tell our children when they ask us what were we doing on the eve of the revolution, what will we say? Working on a design project?!”.
Wednesday the 26th of Jan
During the project presentation, the protests were looming over the topics we talked about, one of the clients did go to the protests and he talked about it, and frankly from what he was saying I got inspired and remembered the old days.
As soon as I got to the office I made 2 posters supporting the protests and spread them around.
That day and the next I was hooked to the online news portals, following each article and video about the protests.
By the end of the day I knew I had to know more about what’s happening, and I knew that the only way was through the tool that brought it about; Social Networking websites.
I logged in to facebook through an account that I’ve set up for Zed mag 2 years ago, and I was amazed at what was happening over the net, everyone was talking about whats happening in Tahrir and it was apparent that this is not just another protest.
Thursday 27th of Jan
Images & Videos of the extent of police brutality used with the protesters, were starting to hit the virtual network and everyone including myself, was infuriated. The protests were gathering more support by the second.
It was then that I received an invitation to a facebook event; The protesters were calling for a “day of Rage” on Friday…
I set my RSVP to “maybe attending”, but subconsciously I acknowledged that most probably I won’t go!
I was still hooked to all news websites to gather information about whats happening in Tahrir, but my chief source of info was still facebook which was now buzzing with live updates.
By 7:00 PM access to facebook and twitter were blocked by the government. I accessed facebook through a proxy server and updated my status to: Facebook is now down in EGYPT! The Corrupt Regime is trying to shutdown the revolt by preventing access to facebook and twitter!!!! and then I posted to the guardian UK news website: Access to facebook and twitter is officially blocked the Egyptian regime is getting desperate.
Rumors where surfacing that the government might shutdown mobile phone networks, but it was not yet confirmed, however, by 8:00 PM the SMS service was down, which was a sign that the government was ready to do anything.
As I was leaving the office I called a couple of friends to see if they were going to take part in “the day of Rage”, no one confirmed, but we agreed to pray Jomaa’ together in a nearby Masjid.
That night, I was supposed to have some friends over for a movie night, scheduled prior to all that. And as I welcomed them to my place, seeking a dramatic entourage, I greeted them with: “Welcome to the last night of Egypt as you and I know it”.
Little did I know, this was probably my truest prediction to date.
That evening we talked about the protests, and one of my friends even made fun of it, and then his wife asked me: “You are not thinking about going now are you?”and I smiled.
Friday 28th of Jan: THE RAGE
I woke up right before Jomaa’ prayers, mobiles were not working by then, without thinking twice, I hastily packed my backpack, putting blank paper sheets, markers, medical gas masks, a scarf, an icecap and an engineer’s safety helmet.
I bid my mom farewell, and when she asked if I was going to the protests, I said: “No I’m going to pray”. And that’s exactly what I was going to do… I was going to pray… pray for a better future.
I hooked up with my friends, we prayed at Victoria College Masjid in Maadi, and as soon as we finished prayer, it was very clear that this was not going to be a usual day, police forces were everywhere both in uniform and in plain clothing.
The air was full of anticipation… and it also rank with fear… theirs.
Other than myself 5 people turned up, 3 of my friends and two friends of theirs, we got into two cars and started looking for any protests happening in Maadi, their were rumors of one at Horria sq. and Grand Mall square, but at the time there was no one…. we moved from one square to the other, but no signs of protesters anywhere… until we reached Nile Kornish… there we took the collective decision…
We are going straight to Tahrir…
…. To be continued