WRITERS IN THE REVOLUTION: Soha Zaki's surprise at the regime's retaliation

Soha Zaki, Sunday 20 Feb 2011

Soha Zaki recalls how the armed bullies tried to break the lines in Tahrir square

When the spark of revolution started, it was not really Wael Ghonim creator of the “We Are All Khaled Said” facebook page or any of the other groups, or even a party without any slogans. The real driver was the loss of patience of the Egyptian public … all of them from all walks of life. And by the way, since the first day of the revolution on January 25th when the demonstrations started, the demonstrators were not only youth, but one could observe people from all age groups and social and economic background, all gathered without prior agreement. A truly stunning fact as if fate had it that Egypt would remain the land of miracles. At the time when some tried to tarnish the reputation of the demonstrations and destroy the biggest revolution observed, it was the youth who stood against it all and impressed the whole world especially after the brutal attack from the police on the memorable Friday which proved the regime’s conspiracy to turn the peaceful demonstrations into a fight with bullies. Despite the optimism with which people received the army’s protection, it was amazing how everyone reacted with laughter when the fighter planes flew low above the demonstrator’s heads in Tahrir, and eventually the army didn’t touch anyone until things settled.

The neighboring streets’ passers-by were first able to interact well with the demonstrators, first through the local protection groups, then changed positions the same evening after Mubarak’s second address, when the same groups that protected the demonstrators turned into prosecutors, chasing the demonstrators with sticks and arms after receiving orders from unknown sources – were these the secret police? Or parliament members? Or even previous cops in disguise? No one is sure, but notes were spread among them that the demonstrators are all agents paid by external powers or from the Muslim Brotherhood who were behind their jobless conditions. They turned the shop owners and craftsmen against the demonstrators, each making it their task to get rid of everyone in Tahrir and considering it a heroic act. The choice of such actors who know nothing but violence in response to anger was a successful choice indeed.

The bullies armed themselves with knives and Molotov bombs and started an uneven war between them and the unarmed protestors. I watched with my own eyes the chasing of anyone who crosses their way, and eventually crossing the lines between demonstrations and throwing fire, which only helped raise the protestor’s determination, some of whom never held a stone before in their entire lives.

They fought with an inertia of revolutionaries, ending the famous Battle of the Camel with a proved conviction of the regime, and increased their intent to topple it down especially after the blood and injuries which will remain a pride for all of them for the rest of their lives.

What particularly affected me is that I was never able to spend the night in Tahrir, but was there every day, then returning home to my child who has no one but me, and now I thank God that my dream as well as that of the millions has come true and the revolution has indeed toppled the regime. 


Soha Zaki is a young Egyptian novelist. She published four books and was awarded the General Award for Cultural Palaces from Ministry of Culture, and the award for love stories from Sphinx Publishing Agency for the story “One Prayer” in the collection “Sidewalk Confessions” which was translated into many languages afterwards.

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