Earlier this evening - just as the world learned that Morsi had been put under house arrest - Eihab Boraie found himself sharing a cup of mint-tea on a Tahrir rooftop with a group of Tamarod youth…
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein
I think I am starting to get used to the idea of everyday being crazier than the last. I am not sure if I could ever top Entering the Heart of Islamess. I figured it was time to find a group of people working with Tamarod. Still new to the whole gonzo journalism thing, I wasn't sure exactly how to go about it. So I headed to Tahrir to look for inspiration.
The first thing I noticed was how many Tamarod were checking people’s bags making sure that no one brought in weapons. Then I noticed Tamarod sectioning off parts of Tahrir as a safe haven for women afraid of sexual harassment. Every time I asked to interview them, I was brushed off as many of them were too busy fulfilling their roles. I can't express how impressed I was with their organizational skills considering they weren’t getting paid. They had clearly learned from the mistakes of the last revolution. Feeling like I was striking out everywhere, I noticed few people on the rooftops taking photos. I figured someone somewhere in the building has got to be working with Tamarod and getting exclusive access to the rooftops for footage. My thinking was if they have people on the ground they must have people controlling the rooftops, if only to avoid snipers getting up there and taking shots at protestors (as happened last time).
After working my way through what seemed to be an endless crowd, I reached a locked gate guarded by a few doormen. I offered them some cigarettes, and asked them if there was someone I could give money to, to gain access to the rooftop. Already liking me while he smoked my cigarettes, he told me to wait a few minutes and he would ask the boss. When the boss arrived downstairs, the doormen vouched for me, and they told me I could go up to the roof. After climbing a ridiculous number of steps, I reached the top and realised there was no access to the actual roof. After scrummaging around I was able to find a ladder that I used to just barely make it to the top.
When I arrived I found a just a few cameramen and a few Tamarod members. I took some videos and pictures, witnessed a chopper flying over me by what seemed to be just a few meters. I actually felt the dust from the rooftop rise from the blades of the helicopter. After I had my fill, I went to the ladder only to find out someone had removed it. I was stuck and at first no one wanted to help me find a way off. I wasn't exactly sure why, until I started handing out more cigarettes to anyone with a Tamarod shirt. After half a pack, one of the members showed me a secret door that had steps leading down into a small apartment. As I climbed down I was met by a variety of individuals wearing Tamarod T-Shirts and bandanas. They all looked at me confused, and instantly I realised they were the keepers of the roof, and that I had not used the proper channels to access it. I tried to diffuse the situation quickly with my broken Arabic and they seemed to take a shining to me. After a brief standoff I could feel them trusting me more as I spoke passionately about the need to finish the revolution started in 2011. At that moment I heard one of the guys tell the person sitting beside him that I knew what I was talking about, which is when I asked if I could I interview them on for the internet. They obliged and the first part of the mission was over.
As I started asking them questions I was taken back by how passionate they spoke of their conviction. I shared a lot of the same views, and I was so much happier talking with them than with the Islamists. First of all they weren't shouting and at no point did I fear for my life. Second, a women would actually talk to me, and when she did, she spoke from her heart, “We are Egypt, and we are the flag of Egypt and we will always be better than any other country. Leave Morsi. Leave.”
A tall man dressed in a traditional turban said, “This is me giving Morsi the red card.” A young man with glasses interjects, “This is a revolution of the people and there is no going back.” I ask a young child of about nine years-old what he wants to see happen in his country. His reply moved me. “We want to get a good education and we want to have security and a place I can feel proud to call home.”
After the interview was over, without me even asking, a cup of tea with mint was presented to me and the TV was turned on. That is when news broke out that Morsi was being put under house arrest. Everyone cheered and they turned to me and told me that Morsi's rule ends tonight. I told them that meant I had to run back to the office to write this up.
As I was just finishing this article the military held a press conference with opposition leaders and religious figure declaring the end of Morsi's rule. Obviously Morsi is denying this, but what is a president with no army under house arrest. You broke out of prison and hopefully we will find the legitimate evidence to put you back in, but in the meantime it's time to celebrate histories first People's Coup.
“It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good...”- Nina Simone