I have lived to witness and participate in the Egyptian Revolution from Jan 25, 2011 until the moment of writing this essay in the morning of Sunday, Feb 6, 2011. Millions of Egyptians, men and women, Muslims and Christians, from all doctrines and beliefs, are united against the current oppressive and corrupt regime, against its revered top pharaoh who “still holds on to his throne even if shedding his people’s blood”, against its corrupt government and the ruling party which hire mercenaries to kill the youths, against its cheating and fake parliament whose members represent illegal properties, women, drugs, and bribes, against its elites who are called ‘the educated elites’ who sold their conscience and pens , destroyed education, public and private morals and culture, and misled the public and individual opinion to gain temporary interests and ruling positions, be small or big ones.
Young men and children, men and women have spontaneously gone out of their houses, led and protected by themselves , after the security and policemen have failed and the controlling elites of culture and media have crumpled down. After the collapse of the rich and powerful and the self-interested party leaders who have explicitly and implicitly supported the regimes of corrupt dictatorships for about 50 years, opportunism and double-standard and deceiving moral values have fallen down; such values have corrupted both the family and the individuals, spreading chaos under the name of safety, dictatorship under the name of democracy, poverty and unemployment under the name of improvement and prosperity, prostitution and marriage betrayal under the name of morals and freedom of choice, humiliation by and submission to the American and Israeli colonization under the name of aids, partnership, friendship and peace process…such a regime which has jailed those with sincere and creative pens inside cells to separate them and taint their reputation, or send them in to exile inside or outside the country.
Millions of Egyptian, men and women, went out in the streets in all provinces, cities and villages, in Aswan, Alexandria, Suez, Bour Said, and all parts of the homeland. In Cairo, the capital, we have encamped in Meidan al-Tahrir for 11 days, day and night till now. Meidan al-Tahrir has become our land and our camp. We settle on its asphalt and inside tents as a solid entity of men and women…we will never leave our place even though the police, disguised in civilian clothes, attack us and even if al-Meidan is attacked (like what happened on Feb 2) by mercenaries hired by the regime. Those were given bribes (50 EGP and a chick for a soldier, and the bigger one’s rank the bigger the bribe is).They stormed into al-Meidan riding horses and camels, armed with various weapons (red, yellow, and white ones). One of the horses was about to trample on me while I was standing in al-Meidan with the young men. They carried me away from this primitive attack; I saw them with my own eyes moving around in al-Meidan, shooting everywhere. Amid the dust and smoke which surrounded al-Meidan and its surrounding buildings, I saw firing flames flying in the sky, young men falling, and blood shedding. A semi-military war broke out between the regime’s henchmen and the peaceful Egyptian people who were calling for freedom, dignity and justice. But the defense committee of the revolutionary young men managed to fight back those mercenaries and captured some horses and camels and 100 mercenaries with their IDs, among them were state security officers, central security officers, policemen, and some of them were jobless and criminals who were released from prisons. Some of them confessed that they were bribed with 200 EGP and promised with 5000 EGP if they managed to scatter the youths in al-Meidan by using their swords and sharp weapons. They described the youths who led this revolution as “the kids who made the disturbance” using the language of Mubarak’s big heads who gave orders and money.
The young men built their tents in the square to get some rest. Women with their infants lied down on the ground in the cold and rain. Hundreds of ladies and girls, never harassed by anyone, walked proudly feeling freedom, dignity, and equality among their fellows. Christians are participating in the revolution side by side with Muslims. I was surrounded by some young men from Muslims Brotherhood: they said to me “We disagree with some of your opinions in your writings but we like and respect you because you have not acted hypocritically with any regime or force inside or outside the country.” During my walk in the square, people were coming to me, men and women, from different directions, embracing and hugging me saying “Dr. Nawal, we are the new generations who have read your books and inspired by your creativity, rebellion and revolution” I swallowed my tears and said “This is a happy occasion for all of us, a celebration of freedom, dignity, equality, creativity, rebellion, and revolution.”
A young woman, named Rania, “We ask for a new constitution, a civil one, which does not segregate between races, gender, and religion.” Another young man, a Christian named Butrus Dawood, said “We want a civil personal statute which does not segregate between people in terms of doctrine, gender or religion.” A young man named Tariq al-Dimiri declared, “The young men made the revolution and we have to select our interim government and a national committee to change the constitution.” A young man, Mohamed Amin, said “We want to open the People’s Assembly and Shura Council and proceed with honest elections to choose a new president and new popular councils.” A young man named Ahmed Galal said, “We are a popular revolution that puts a new social contract, not just demands, slogan of our revolution.”
Free equality, and social justice, who makes revolution is one who puts the new government rules, chooses the transitional government, selects National Committee which changes the constitution, establishes a committee of governors of the revolution so that opportunists (the owners of wealth and power) are not imposed on us. Committees of governors did not participate with us in the revolution, but comes now to us by plane from Europe or America. Among the Egyptians who lived their lives outside or inside the country now come to become leaders of the revolution. We say: “Who did the revolution are the ones who are leading the revolution. Among us governors from young people of thirty years, forty or fifty years of age. We have competencies in all scientific political and economic fields. We are the ones who form a committee of our governors and our government in transition, and the National Committee to change the constitution and laws. A young Mohamed Said said “I feel proud for the first time in my life because I am Egyptian. Despair and depression were gone and defeat was turned into victory. We paid the price of freedom with the blood of our martyrs. There is no power to bring us back.
Al-Meidan turned to an entire city with its facilities, and in the hospital thereabout sleep injured and wounded, doctors and nurses from the masses of young people volunteered, residents volunteered with blankets, medicines, cotton and gauze, food and water, something like a dream and fantasy, I am living with the young men and women day and night. Committees were formed among these young men and women to handle all chores from sweeping the Meidan to transporting the injured to hospital, providing food and medicines, taking over the defense of the Meidan and responding to the lies of the system in the media to nominate the names of the Transitional Government and the Committee of governors, and others. Walls for the houses, institutions and taboos that distinguish between citizens, women and men, Muslim and Christians or others faded. We become one nation, no divisions on the basis of sex, religion or other, all demanding the departure of Mubarak and his trial and his men in the party and the government, the bloodshed on Wednesday, 2 February and all days since 25 January, corruption and tyranny over thirty years of rule, and the rest of the interview.
NAWAL EL SAADAWI, at age 80, has been in Tahrir Square in solidarity with her countryfolk since the beginning of the revolution that has today ended the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Her many books include: Women and Sex, Woman at Point Zero, The Fall of the Imam, Memoirs From the Women’s Prison and A Daughter of Isis.
Translated By Dr. Rabia Redouane, Dept of Modern Languages, Montclair State University