Hidden Treasures: Voices from Tahrir Square (Cairo, Egypt)
One of the most dramatic events in Arab history took place this year, stretching over 18 days in Cairo, Egypt. A non-violent protest movement challenged the regime of Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for thirty years, and on February 11 it culminated in Mubarak's resignation. I've been fortunate to have been in Cairo for many of these amazing days. Below are some of the people who took part in the protest.
I neither know this man's name nor where he came from -- he had just been hit in the face by a chunk of concrete thrown by a Mubarak supporter -- but before his friends laid him down on the ground to tend to his injury, he insisted on giving the V-sign to the camera. And through this gesture he gave voice to his determination to stand up to repression, to have his voice heard.
Khaled, 45 years old, told me: "We are not Iran, we are Egypt" -- a sentiment with which informed journalists like Anthony Shadid agree. His nephew, 25-year-old Hatem, said, "Mubarak told Obama that Obama doesn't understand the Egyptian people, as if we're a different kind of human. We depend on you to let the American people know what is happening in Egypt. This is the first time in 30 years when people stand and say, 'It's enough. It's enough'"
This is Miriam, who had come with her dad to Tahrir Square from Fayoum, an oasis about two hours south of Cairo. When I asked in Arabic how old she was, she answered in English, "Nine!"
This Christian woman (left) asked me to photograph her and a Muslim woman she had just met holding hands. They were both from Cairo, and they wanted the world to know that one of the things that had been happening in Tahrir Square was an unprecedented show of Christian and Muslim unity.
Mahdy (the man with the beard) had lived in Texas and told me he had come to Tahrir prepared to die if need be. He spoke about freedom, dignity, and justice. For more about our conversation and how he reminded me of Patrick Henry at the Virginia Convention, visit my photoblog entry titled "The Patrick Henrys of Tahrir Square (Cairo, Egypt)."
On the evening of February 11, after the resignation of President Mubarak had been announced, a thunderous roar shot through Cairo as people reacted to the news. Minutes later the streets were filled with Cairenes in celebration, including the woman above who stood on a car and shouted "horreyah!" (freedom). They had proved that an authoritarian government cannot stand the weight of sustained protest by its people. Neither, apparently, can the roof of a car!
If interested in more of my images from Cairo, please visit my flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcarillet/
Joel Carillet, chief editor of wanderingeducators.com, is a freelance writer and photographer based in Tennessee. He is the author of 30 Reasons to Travel: Photographs and Reflections from Southeast Asia. To learn more about him, follow his regular photoblog, or purchase images, visit www.joelcarillet.com or www.istockphoto.com/jcarillet.