I was born again on #Jan25. So was Egypt.
I am only 22 years old, and Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron fist for my entire life. But during the protests, I saw a new Egypt emerging – my Egypt. Men didn’t deal with me as a woman but as a fellow citizen. In place of the normal class and religious divisions, I only saw acceptance.
“The people want the downfall of the regime” was the demand that rang in every Egyptian street. Everywhere, a sea of red, white, and black rippled endlessly amid angry chants and occasional patriotic songs. Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags brushed up against synthetic burqas. Priests called for freedom alongside sheikhs. Young children tugged gently at their grandfathers’ hands, wanting to paint their little faces with the colors of the flag. Farmers, judges, doctors, workers, young, old – people flocked from all over Egypt – for different reasons, with one cause.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
These were the scenes that colored Tahrir (Liberation) Square and the rest of Egypt for the 18 days before the Mubarak regime finally fell.
Why I joined the protests
When I decided to join the protests on Friday, Jan. 28, I had no idea what I was embarking on. Although I have a BA in both history and political science, and thus consider myself to be fairly politically aware, I had never engaged in a protest or belonged to a political party. In Egypt, as in much of the world, textbook politics is one thing, and political participation is another. As an upper-middle class Egyptian, I lead a comfortable life compared to the 42 percent of my compatriots who, according to the UN, live under the poverty line. However, this wasn’t enough to keep me off the streets.
This time I was determined to take action, because I believed that "enough was enough." For the 22 years of my life, the same president ruled Egypt with an iron fist. And matters were only getting worse. It was widely believed the president was grooming his son to take the presidency by the end of the year. I felt the responsibility to participate in ridding the country of oppression and corruption. Even though I never really thought of myself as being personally “oppressed by the state” like millions of other Egyptians, I was yearning for freedom, to express my opinion, and to have a cause to belong to. Above all, I was longing to play an active role in shaping my country's future.
And in searching for this Egypt, I found myself.
A unified cause overcomes differences
I saw people of all classes, occupations, and ideological orientations protesting. They, too, all wanted to feel that they were part of this struggle for Egypt's future. This revolution debunked many class and gender misconceptions that I – and many others – had lived with. I never before thought that one cause could unite such diverse people. Everywhere I looked, people appeared so different, yet seemed very much the same.