In a joyous atmosphere where Coptic hymns, Sufi music and revolutionary songs intertwined, thousands of Egyptians marked the end of 2011 and the beginning of the New Year in Tahrir Square, which has for some revolutionaries become their makeshift home since January.
At the Qasr El-Dobara Church, site of a field hospital during clashes, a service began at 8pm as youth created a human shield around the church to protect it from any attacks. After the service, a march began from the church to the square as participants held aloft tens of balloons containing photos of martyrs who have been killed during the past year.
When they arrived at the square, several priests climbed the stage and addressed the crowd to be met with cheering and whistling from the excited crowd who began chanting “Muslim and Christian are one hand.”
Ramy Essam, revolutionary singer who became famous for penning the song “Leave” during the 18-day uprising, also sang several patriotic songs for the crowd. Several other stars also made an appearance serenading the night including Aly El-Haggar, Azza Balbaa, Sufi singer Sheikh Ahmed El-Touny and poet Abdel Rahman Youssef.
At the stroke of midnight, balloons the colours of the Egyptian flag were released into the air amidst fireworks, and cheers and whistles from the crowd.