Behind the angry protests

Gallery: Egypt in chaos
Gallery: Egypt in chaos

For the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands - and at times millions - have taken to Egyptian streets to protest against leader Hosni Mubarak in the now infamous Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Yahoo! in Maktoob has interviewed eight of the anti-regime protesters at the square, to find out why they each wanted to brave the violence that has claimed the lives of an estimated 300 people, and continue to take part in the ongoing demonstrations.

Tamim Khalifa, 20

Single, university student
No political affiliation

I have been to the Tahrir Square on three occasions since the protests started. We are here to raise the word of truth and change the regime, because the regime cannot change its skin without changing its core, and the core is the president.

This is not a revolution of the poor or hungry, it’s a revolution for people from all walks of the Egyptian life, both poor and rich.

It is great to see that no one here is afraid.

I want the president to leave and a coalition government to run the country and overlook the changes to the constitution until a fair election is held in September.

The statements made by the government on Tuesday are contradicting and lack sincerity. I don’t expect the president to step down, but I will continue with the protests.

Mosaab El Shami, 20

Single, Student and amateur photographer
No political affiliation

I have been continuously going to Tahrir Square since January 25th, and have spent several nights over there.

I have never taken part in any protests before, but I felt this was an opportunity because the demands of the protestors are for all Egyptians.

The calls for protests on the Internet made me feel it will be big, so I decided to join. And the fact that they were organized by youth and not political parties is what made me take this step.

I have seen a lot of moving scenes here, a high school kid was weeping and in a hysterical state, saying his brother was shot dead for shouting ‘There is no God but Allah’ in front of the Ministry of Interior, another was walking around inviting protestors to his wedding ‘as soon as Mubarak goes down’.

I hope that by the end of this year we would have an elected government and that universal freedoms are applied and that we put an end to the corruption that has taken over this country.

I don’t expect that all of my hopes or dreams will be achieved. There will be some changes for the better, but it will be a long process filled with a lot of obstacles.

Nadia El Awadi, 42

Mother of 4, journalist
No political affiliation

I came to Tahrir Square to document, report and witness these historic moments. I have been going since January 25th, and have already spent 3 nights there.

People from different backgrounds and factions are supporting each other, encouraging each other and acting as one; an unprecedented scene in Egypt.

The atmosphere here in the Square is filled with love.

For the first time Egyptians feel they own the country. What Egypt is witnessing today is what we have been longing for.

I am hoping this regime leaves, because I don’t trust it to fulfill the promises it made and move the country from where it currently is to a more democratic situation.

This regime might have did some good things in the past, but that does not erase all the bad things we endured over the years.

I believe the move towards democracy will take more than I year, but I hope what has happened has put us on the beginning of the road.

I feel like I am standing on the Berlin Wall, with democracy on one side and dictatorship on the other, and I hope this wall falls down and we can rebuild Egypt.

I expect that in a year’s time we would have achieved elements of what we are asking for, yet I remain worried that we don’t.

Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, 33

Married businessman
No political affiliation

I went to Tahrir Square once on Tuesday to support the protestors and voice my dissatisfaction with what the regime is doing, especially since January 25th.

I was so impressed by how organized and civil this group of youth is and how peaceful their demonstrations were.

I hope the youth of the January 25th movement calm down, and be proud of what they have achieved so far. They also have to regroup and choose a leader from among them to start a dialogue with the new government in order to move forward.

I really believe the new government will deliver on their promises.

The political arena will witness a different kind of power struggle between the different fronts in the upcoming period, especially if the parliament is dissolved.

Name: Tamer El Demerdash, 36

Married, Father, engineer
No political affiliation

The atmosphere in Tahrir Square is magnificent.

I have been at the Square for the past four days. Protestors are maintaining the cleanliness of the place, sharing food and doctors are providing medical assistance to the wounded on the ground.

The thugs are still around us, on Thursday they were blocking all the supporters from bringing in any food or medicine into the Square and throwing it in the Nile, but we found alternative routes to keep the supplies coming.

The president is playing with our emotions… and the Egyptian state TV is filled with lies. They are using the Muslim Brotherhood card to strike fear into us, but I am telling you that even though they are with us (protesters), they are not imposing their ideas on us, and even if they do, we won’t allow them.

I am hoping that President Mubarak steps down and relinquishes power to Vice President Omar Suleiman. When the regime goes down, we should regroup and figure things out with the help of the Committee of Elders.

Angham Abdel-Nasser, 19

University student
No political affiliation

I have no political affiliations, yet I wanted to go to Tahrir Square to take part in the demonstrations. Unfortunately, my family wouldn’t allow me because of all the violence and attacks on the protestors.

I want everyone in Tahrir Square that the best thing right now is dialogue (with the regime) to achieve our goals with the least possible losses.

All I hope now is that President Mubarak lives up to his words and that the next 7 months pass by peacefully.

Mohammed Tarek, 24

No political affiliation

I came to Tahrir Square along with the millions of Egyptians who are pouring in from all over to put an end to the humiliation they have endured over the past few decades and to help Egypt regain its stature.

I witnessed the terror that the protestors were subjected to from the regime, before they try to play mind games with us to sympathize with this old president.

I hope that Mubarak will step down, in fact I truly believe he will step down.

Ahmed Salah, 34

No political affiliation

I came to Tahrir Square to see for myself the truth that the regime is trying to taint.

I saw the thugs on Wednesday come in on camels and horses and attacking the protestors.

It started as a beautiful day, and we were trying to convince our fellow protestors that we achieved what we want and the demonstrations should come to an end, until the attacks occurred, which changed everything.

I don’t think President Mubarak is stupid to do something like this, but if this says something, it says that he is not the only one calling the shots. That is why we cannot trust any words or promises from this regime.

I believe that things will calm down unless the government does something stupid.

I want the protestors to go home and negotiations for a new constitution to commence, followed by early parliamentary and presidential elections.