Magda Boutros has been working for the Egyptian human rights group EIPR since returning to her native country just over two years ago.
She shared her experience of the current protests with euronews:
“We’ve been going to the protests every day since the 25th of January. Personally I never thought they would spread to such an extent. I just hoped that lots of people would turn up. The crowds have picked up an incredible momentum since the 25th and convinced many people. The demonstrations have been getting bigger every day. Normally you get the same people who protest, we all know each other but now everybody is protesting: you see all social classes, families with children, women both veiled and unveiled, some with burqas, Muslims, Christians….For the vast majority of people this is the first time they have come into the streets to protest. This a new phenomenon and it’s impressive to see.
“I’ve been protesting pretty much every day for one week. For Friday’s big protests for example I left from Mohandissine where I live and walked to Tahrir Square. Also, as internet and text messaging have been cut off, we don’t really have a way of organising ourselves easily. So protesting at Tahrir is the easiest thing to do.
“The police left the streets on Friday evening. Before that the demonstrations were a kind of war between police and protesters. Since the police left there’s been a friendly atmosphere at the protests. When people have brought something to eat, they share it around. If someone starts feeling faint, we quickly go and find a doctor and make some room around them. People are also organising themselves to pick up rubbish and empty bins. People quickly learn how it works. It’s very organised and very spontaneous at the same time.
“It’s the same thing with the young people who are taking care of security. From the moment the police left, groups of people started looting shops. To begin with that scared many people but we soon understood that it was on such a scale that it had to be organised. As soon as protection groups got together, they started arresting people and some of the people they arrested were members of the police. It was written on their ID cards. It became apparent that this was a strategy of the interior ministry to take revenge and sow chaos and try to get protesters off the streets. Many protection committees have been set up armed with whatever they can get their hands on: sticks or kitchen knives. For example in my neighbourhood some shops were looted on the first evening, Friday, but since then everything has been fine. Young people are checking any strangers who come into the area and are searching cars for weapons.
“On Sunday I arrived at the Tahrir protest and there were lots of other people arriving there too. The army was filtering the protesters and searching them to check they weren’t armed. In fact most people came just before the curfew started just to show that the curfew was not stopping them from going out. Even after the curfew began, the army was allowing people in and out. We left the square to go and eat at a friends house nearby and we were able to go back and join the protest. There was a pleasant atmosphere.
“Today (Monday) I feel the same as I have done all week. I am full of hope. At last Egypt is waking up. At last people understand that the power is in their hands. It’s extraordinary in a country that has never experienced this. We will protest today but especially on Tuesday, when a big rally has been organised. Either we will demand Mubarak leaves or, if he has already left, we will celebrate. We all can’t wait for Mubarak to leave. Now it’s just a question of time.”
"At last Egypt is waking up!"- witness