By Aissa Boukanoun
As Egyptians took part in their first free parliamentary elections, the symbolic birthplace of the revolution, Tahrir Square, carried on living its own self-sustainable life. As Euronews had been covering elections from Cairo in late November, I went down to the famous Tahrir Square where surprisingly – despite continuing protests and an overwhelming revolutionary mood – I discovered an open air shopping mall or even a real city within a city with its rules and codes, its infrastructure, tents, clinics and all kind of food and drink premises.
Al Tahrir by night
Morning in Tahrir Square
Cairo’s Tahrir square which is known today as an emblem of the Arab Revolution in Egypt has become an important source of income for many Egyptian families today.
Traditional Egyptian food for sale
With the high unemployment rate in Cairo, hundreds of Egyptians earn their living, quite literally, from Tahrir Square.
There are many street vendors selling sandwiches, pastry, hot and cold drinks to protesters.
Some of them call themselves “protesters” and are willing to share their opinion with international correspondents for free, while others are there just for cash.
This protester proposes his opinion to Euronews …but not for free
The vendors say that during the protest months they could sell up to 300 sandwiches per day: much better than selling food to the tourists in the Kornish area. Like Hamdi, a vendor of delicious liver sandwiches, many prefer to work on Fridays as he says “Hundreds of thousands of protesters flock here on Fridays, so I can sell up to 500 sandwiches and earn about 100 dollars per day.”
While food vendors prosper in Tahrir Square other businesses, like those selling memorabilia and other objects with national scripts, revolution slogans and printed T-shirts, are in decline. “My goods interest just tourists and international correspondents who are here 24/24 and 7/7” says the vendor of tricolor ribbons.” In January 2011 I used to make good money selling Egyptian flags and revolutionary slogans, in November the situation is different.”
Most young people say they ‘found themselves’ during the revolution and have been living the Tahrir Square experience to the full ever since.
They don’t want to face reality and come back to the life they had before. Most of them are jobless and still don’t see any future in the city.
They are staying in Tahrir tents, just recalling the glorious past days, telling jokes, sharing latest news of the day and planning their future. Here they have found people with whom they can share their opinion, to feel that they are not alone, Al Tahrir became their time spending and way of socialising.
Ahmed Fadhl is tracking Mubarak’s party residues in the social networks
Al Tahrir’s slogan writer looking for inspiration
All those people working during the protests and around Tahrir Square during all these months are having their own vision of Arab Revolution in Egypt; they have been here since January and can say with certainty that the protesters’ moods today differ from those they had back then. Before, they were all here, united, for one common purpose, sure of their choice. Almost a year on and many are here aimlessly and uncertain in their future.
Al Tahrir Square established its own code: there is always one who guards while others sleep.
…but even the guards get exhausted and fail to accomplish their mission!