Tahrir Square

© Simon Allison, 2 February 2011

It is nine thirty in Cairo, and I am in an internet cafe with bright lights, foreigners, cold drinks on demand and some flamenco music in the background. My head can’t really cope with the sheer normalcy of it all. Half an hour ago, I was pretending to be a teacher, and to be really quite fond of Mr Mubarak, to escape from the pro-Mubarak throngs/thugs who’d set themselves up outside my hostel and who were quite keen to beat up anything foreign on the assumption (reasonable, as it turns out), that all foreigners must be journalists. Half an hour before that, I was watching the Cairo sound and light show in Tahrir Square – the sound of tens of thousands of angry people chanting and banging things, and the light, somewhat beautiful in a grim sort of way, of molotov cocktails arcing their way gently through the night sky. Both sides were throwing them liberally; it looked a bit like a game of fire badminton (I don’t think that’s a sport. But it should be). Half an hour before that I was running alongside an angry mob after they’d got hold of one of the pro-Mubarak supporters who, bleeding profusely from his ear and with most of his clothes torn off, was pleading desperately for his life; a plea granted by the sensible majority of the demonstrators, who carted him off to one of the army checkpoints where he had to step around a dead body to get to where he was supposed to go. The big photo at the top is the one I took of him; apologies that it’s a little graphic.

I’m working on some analysis of today’s events and a better account of the day, which I’ll link to here when they’re up. In the meantime, I actually managed to get something published:



(Yes, I know they both link to the same story; I’m just pleased to have featured in two of my favourite publications.)

VERDICT: Cairo internet cafes, with cold drinks and internet, go forth; Hosni Mubarak’s paid thugs (apparently 50 Egyptian pounds a day is the going rate) go fourth.



Filed under 4th, Forth

5 responses to “Tahrir Square

  1. Doris

    The picture that says a thousand words, that sums up the whole story in one unforgettable image. What an incredible pic! You should do something with it Third World Goes Forth.

  2. Thinking Twice

    I second that.
    Anyone’s head would be spinning at the magnitude and rate of change of events in Egypt. No doubt a lot of worried citizens, include those who might have recently changed sides in fear of repercussions.
    The photo is excellent. Possible a definitive image of this movement thus far. I second that too.

  3. Ria

    Congrats on the publishings… didnt know u were in Egypt, must have been an experience. Hope you are keeping safe. My best wishes to you in all your endeavours.
    – Your 3rd flr neighbour from Kafr Abdou 🙂

  4. Anne Stanford

    Excellent news pic. It’s a very big deal to be reporting from the heart of the story. Waiting now for you to tell us what’s going to happen next.

  5. Nicky Rattray

    Gosh Simon you are right in the thick of things – look forward to your next installment from where it is all happening

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