قامت مجموعة من شباب مصر باستعراض مهاراتهم في الرسم، برسومات تعبر عن فرحتهم بثورة 25 يناير، والتي كللت بنجاح أولي باقتلاع الرئيس حسني مبارك ونظامه من على كرسي الحكم، بعد نحو 30 عاما.
وتُظهر الصور مدى ولع المصريين بالمحروسة وعشقهم لتراب أم الدنيا ”مصر”، وفرحتهم بالثورة التي تفجرت يوم 25 يناير، ومضى الشباب في طريقهم وصمودهم على مدى 18 يوماً، بحثاً عن الحرية التي صادرها منهم نظام مبارك وجهازه الأمني، الذي عمل طوال ثلاثة عقود على تكميم الأفواه وتقفيل البلد، وتمهيد الطريق أمام التمديد لمبارك نفسه، ومن بعده توريث الحكم لولده جمال، إلا ان شعب مصر وشبابها أبوا أن يُستعبدوا في أوطانهم وعلى أرضهم.
وعلى أحدى الصور تعانق الهلال مع الصليب في لوحة تؤكد مدى توحد المصريين مسلمين ومسيحيين نحو هدف واحد، تمثل في ”الحرية.. الكرامة.. الإنسانية”، التي أهدها النظام بممارساته على كافة الأصعدة، حتى بات المصريين يفضلون الموت غرقاً على سواحل الغرباء عن العيش في وطن كان يسحقهم وسفه من أحلامهم.
Samar Sewilam’s message to those watching flickering television sets in far-off lands is this: “Do not underestimate what is happening here because it has changed so many things.”
A professor of medicine at Cairo University, she comes to Tahrir Square each day to treat protesters wounded in clashes with government supporters.
Makeshift medical clinics have sprung from nothing inside the square. Sewilam’s station is a pen out in the open, the walls corrugated metal ripped from a nearby construction site.
“We have to put down Mubarak and all of his filthy ministers,” she says in polished English. “We can put them down and start a new era.”
For Sewilam, the most depressing thing about her Egypt is the corruption. It has crept its way in, even into her university, she says.
She wants to see honest people in government.
At 45, she never dreamed this kind of uprising could happen.
“This is much better than I thought, because Mubarak is changing his idea and he is really accepting a lot of things that he hasn’t been accepting in the last 30 years.”
The Egyptian people are like water, says Epthag Leladwy. They are very patient.
“But if you keep boiling the water, there is a time when the steam must escape.”
For the 55-year-old owner of a gym, now is that time.
“There is no respect in Egypt,” she says. The police show no respect, and neither do government officials, even if you pay them off.
Leladwy dreams of a country where religion plays no part in how people are treated.
For example, religion is listed on national identity cards.
“I want the government to respect me as an Egyptian, not after asking me if I’m Muslim or Christian. I don’t want anybody to ask me that question.”
She is neither. Her beliefs are her own. And only through better education will people understand this kind of tolerance, she says.
Leladwy is not surprised by the thousands who have taken to the streets, demanding a democratic government and the toppling of the regime. They are the steam.
“I know the Egyptian mentality and spirit,” she says in broken English. “I knew this day would come.”
Ali Gheita spent five years in Montreal, attending elementary school and learning French. Now he stands in Tahrir Square in a white, bloodstained overcoat.
Gheita, a doctor who studied at the 6th of October University on the outskirts of Cairo, has been treating the wounded in the square around the clock. He looks exhausted.
“You need a lot of contacts in the system if you need anything done,” he says about living in Egypt. “Bribery is a normal thing of life.”
If corruption stopped, he says, everything would be better.
“The health system is completely screwed up. Education is worse. Basically, any profits made by the economy goes to the elite few that are in the ruling party.”
The 25-year-old says he wants true democracy to be established.
“A lot of people outside say that would mean the Muslim Brotherhood would be taking over, but that is not the case.”
He adds that the educated masses didn’t vote in the last election because they knew it was rigged.
This time, things would be different.
“Freedom of speech would have to be established completely,” he says. “And money has to be diverted to the health and education system.”
Gheita’s people have surprised him over the past two weeks. They even clean the streets after demonstrations.
“To be honest, I underestimated the Egyptian people. I’ve seen in them that they can be peaceful to an extent I didn’t expect,” he says. “There is unity. There is no such thing as Muslims and Christians these days.”
If Somia Ahmed had to choose just one thing to improve in Egypt, she couldn’t.
“I cannot choose just one, I must choose two!” she says, chuckling as she peers out from beneath a wide-brimmed hat. “The economy and education, they go hand in hand.”
Ahmed, 40, is an antique dealer, specializing in stones like marble. She also has a degree in political science and talks often of the “geniuses of Egypt” who are doing important research in the universities. If only the government would look at the research they could improve so much about life here, says Ahmed, who’s unmarried.
For many years, Ahmed says, she has been asking “Where are the men? Why are they not doing something?” It’s not just men, though. For almost a fortnight, men and women across Egypt have stood shoulder to shoulder, demanding change. The people have made her so proud.
“These people created a country inside Tahrir Square and the only goal they had was to protect the people of Egypt and ask for their freedom,” she says. And even though the first glorious, safe, days seem to have passed, some good has come from the violence. The square’s denizens have had to create their own security, making checkpoints, scrupulously examining every I.D. and checking for weapons.
“The people, when they were attacked, they created an army for the people of this square. They have their own secret service, their own guards, their own police. I challenge anybody who can make a square like they did.”
For Ahmed Baha, life in Egypt has been marred by corruption.
The government “keeps the people too busy working to feed themselves and their children so that they can be busy with that and not think of freedom,” says the 25-year-old engineer, who works for Cairo’s rumbling subway.
But now, freedom is all the people talk about.
For the past 15 years, life has only become worse, says Baha, who stands proudly in Tahrir Square with a bandage on his head from the previous night’s battle. The economy suffered and politicians thought only of themselves.
“After Mubarak, we will see freedom, justice, improvement of everything,” he says, smiling widely.
“I never dreamed of this day. I was losing hope in the Egyptian people that they would ever stand up.”
Baha knows the future he seeks won’t happen overnight.
“It’s going to take a long time for anybody, even if we have good presidents in the future.”
He pauses for a moment and looks at the thousands who have occupied and, in a violent clash, won the square.
“I feel it is a gift from God.”
Ahmed Isam — cheek scraped, eyes big and round — is standing with men, throwing stones at pro-government forces who, after nightfall, have attempted to seize Tahrir Square.
Ahmed is 12 years old. He doesn’t know where the stones go. He just throws and throws, aiming at those who want to keep Mubarak in power and take back the square.
“I was fighting with them,” he says, as a group of men chuckle and rub him on the head.
For Ahmed, who stopped going to school in Grade 4, life in Egypt is not good.
“It’s as simple as that,” he says. “Because Mubarak ruined everything, I don’t have any money. I don’t get an education.”
His father works in the country’s beloved military. His mother stays home in their flat in Imbaba, a poor neighbourhood on Cairo’s west bank. Neither knew he had made his way to the square, where he has been sleeping for two nights, alone. They aren’t worried about him, he says.
Ahmed dreams of owning a car and having a nice job. He hopes Egypt becomes a good country.
“Like it was before. Like people tell me.”