Place: Cairo, Egypt
Interview: Lena Dorfschmidt
[…] On the 28th, that is called Gomma el Ghadab, “Friday of Anger.” They called it like this. Gomma is Friday and Ghadab is Anger. And this day a lot of people got killed. This was when really the revolution happened. On the 25th is was not very strong – On 28th it was. All the violence, a lot of people got killed. And also there was a curfew, on that day, on this Friday there was a curfew. […]
I tell you something interesting, this day on the 28th I had two lessons. On the 28th they cut down all the mobile connection and Internet. So that was something, because I had the lesson somewhere far away from home, but there was no mobile so I couldn’t call my parents. And the second lessons, it was near, walking distance from home. It was 3PM I remember that parents from my colleagues, they came in and said: “What are you doing? You don’t know what is happening outside? There is a curfew.” And then we cancelled, […] the teacher didn’t continue and then we left. And then when I went outside I heard the people: “Go home, there is a curfew, you have to go home.
It started at 5PM maybe. Very early. When the sun was down, we all went on the street to protect [our neighborhood].
We heard that prisons got opened. And till now there is a lot of talk about who opened the prisons. No one is sure till now who opened them but the important issue was that prisoners were free on the streets.
So we heard that the prisons were opened. Even we watched in the news, that hypermarkets, like Walmart, some of them were completely stolen. Completely. And we saw on the news, that the thieves, that they were coming and taking TVs and Laptops and whatever they can get. Some of them were completely stolen.
Maybe [they were even] normal people. Could be. But the thing is that there was no security [on that day]. The police, they retreated from the streets. There was no police. The army was there afterwards, because the army was supposed to help us.
For example I remember that in our neighborhood there was a tank. And all the people went to the soldiers and they had photos with them. There was a common thing. All the people were taking photos with the tanks. You can find it on many people’s Facebook profiles. At this time, 2011, it was very popular to take photos with tanks.
We went down to protect our neighborhood from whatever tension. Robbery and something like this. It was a very nice feeling that the neighbors got together, because before the neighbors didn’t know each other, or maybe the people in the same building knew each other, but not the entire neighborhood. But after this we all had to, because we made check points. Because they were in specific places and people go together and started socializing. We ate together. The women brought down the food and tea.
[…] There was curfew and there were no cars. Even no lights, very dim lights. [We went down on the streets] to protect [the neighborhood]. The thing is, we had to stop people in the neighborhood, because they are supposed not to come, because there is a curfew. That’s why we had to stop everyone: “Where are you going? What are you doing?” [People driving around] was not normal, there is no traffic or anything. The streets were empty.
In the mosques in the neighborhood and in the media, in talk shows and stuff like this [they announced that the youth should protect their neighborhoods]. […] I remember, it was on the talk show… I don’t remember how exactly it started, but it was on the talk show. But then the days after, you get new stories from people in the neighborhood in talk show, they called them and told them something happened, someone came and attacked us…
And even there is something funny. People brought down TVs and PlayStations and children were playing PlayStation in the streets, everyone next to his home.
We were blocking the side street and then we would stop them and tell them, then why they would enter. Some were suspicious. A motorbike or something and we would ask him where he was going and see his identity card. Also people were making shifts. I remember that because I sleep early, I was down from sunset to twelve and then someone would come. Shifts. [We didn’t have to do this for] very long, a week maybe.
[…] We were a bit worried, but it was a nice feeling, because we all got together.
After Mubarak was out, the army took over and everything was under control again. There was a lot of army in the streets and we felt safe again.
Afterwards, after Mubarak left, we did that cleaning thing.
[When they brought in the news, that Mubarak had resigned] I was at home, I was dancing with my family.
At the same time […] neighbors began to get to know each other. And for example in my neighborhood, we made a Facebook page to clean the streets or to develop them somehow to paint the [sidewalks] and stuff like this. So all people got together in this Facebook group and they brought paintings and then all came down to clean and to paint. Same time. The whole spirit was very nice, the people wanted to change, and not only in our street, everywhere they did this. Not only Tahir Square, everywhere. The spirit at that time was very nice. It was a very nice feeling.
Because they felt there was a change, that they brought down the regime, so they wanted to start and change themselves, and I remember posts on Facebook: “From now on this is your country and I will never litter the streets again, never harass girls again.” At this time it was a very nice atmosphere, spirit.
[How it started?] Maybe someone started it and then people were imitating. As I told you, there was a very good spirit. “Now it is our country, we are free somehow”, and stuff like this, “so we have to change.” So it started like this, that was the idea. A lot of people in the neighborhood made Facebook pages. So we made a Facebook group. And then we decided that we will meet at 10 AM and we need paint… At this time, wherever you will go somewhere you will find youth painting. The whole vibe was very positive. It was good days.
We just hoped for a better future. I remember also that my father, the day that Mubarak stepped down, he told me, “Oh you are lucky, you will witness good days.”