Amany Eid found her voice last week in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and here on Postcards as well. Eid, 34, wrote a Guest Post about how she, after never before feeling politically inclined (because, under a repressive regime, what’s the point?) joined the protests that toppled the Egyptian government. Eid, a telecom-industry manager in Cairo and also an alum of the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring program, returned to Tahrir Square Friday night to cheer the end of Hosni Mubarak’s reign. Today, as Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, may be an ideal time to share Eid’s latest on-the-ground report and straight-from-the-heart letter to her country. –Patricia Sellers
The way to Tahrir was incredible. People were using their horns in a method that we use to celebrate weddings. Flags were being waved out of the cars, the balconies. People were on the streets — all ages, just dancing and waving the flag. Cars were playing patriotic songs of Egypt.
If one can imagine a dark theater or opera house, with no lights on — dark and silent due to the approaching curfew hour. Then, all of a sudden, the lights blink on and the orchestra starts playing loud, joyous music with full force. To add to that, all the attendees of the theater standing up and singing and dancing with the music.
The transformation was incredible. The whole city was wild and everyone was out in the streets.
To get to Tahrir, traffic was awful. People wanted to go to the place where the big party was. Yes, there were small parties, but the big party was at Tahrir. We had to park almost 30 minutes away from Tahrir. So we walked.
Cairo is well-known for its pollution. But that day, the air smelled fresh and clean. That walk, even though it was not the most pleasant as we had to walk through unpaved roads and beneath a downtown bridge to get to Tahrir, felt great. I felt alive and happy to have witnessed this.
Occasional thoughts of how Mubarak must be feeling right now would creep into my mind, and I would begin to sympathize and feel sorry for him. But then I would remember what a friend of mine told me. My friend asked me, “If a criminal walked into your home and tried to kill you and steal you, and you end up fighting him and you end up hurting him or killing him in the process, how would you feel about that criminal?” I told my friend, that this criminal had it coming to him and deserved what he got. He told me that I should not have any compassion or feel sorry at all.
We arrived at Tahrir. Various parties, each with their own music, were going on simultaneously. And though this was all unplanned, it fell, because of the feeling of pride and victory, harmoniously into place. In some sections, poetry was recited. In others, classic Egyptian drums were played to a famous beat that triggers anyone with any sort of rhythm in their body to move.
Yes, this is in conservative, traditional Cairo. People of all ages were there, and some families had their kids with them — taking photos with the soldiers of the army and near tanks. The soldiers looked happy too to be with the public. We were all one.
On our way home that night, I began thinking of a couple of my best friends who I know are Christians. Since the beginning, they had been against the protests, in fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would take over and Egypt would be under Islamic rule. We tried to discuss it, but when things came to a deadlock, we decided to stop, as we didn’t want to upset each other. Although I know other Egyptian Christians who are ecstatic about the revolution, these friends were not. I wanted to write a status on Facebook when I got home: a message to all my Christian friends, telling them, “You are part of Egypt, if not its origin. The name Egypt comes from the word Copt. This is your home, and all Muslims do not want the Muslim Brotherhood to rule. Yes, some do. But the majority, if not all practicing Muslims, do not want religion to interfere with politics and vice versa.”
I had started writing this in my Facebook status. And then I thought, it might be misunderstood, especially since these Christian friends are upset at this point in time. So I thought I would leave it to time to prove otherwise.
On Saturday, when we went back to the Square to take photos and document “Tahrir After,” we expected to be the only ones there. It was still filled. Not only were there the people playing music, chanting, reciting poetry. There were hundreds wearing masks, carrying brooms and garbage bags, and cleaning Tahrir. People told one another “Mabrook,” which means “Congratulations.” The reply was “Mabrook Aleena,” which means “Congratulations for all of us.”
Mubarak, with all his good and bad, is history. Whether he is sick, whether he is in Germany or Sharm El Sheikh, that is his problem. The money that he stole is his problem. God will punish him for it. Now is the time to rebuild Egypt and clean the mess because when you love something or someone, for that matter, as sweet as words may be, words are not enough. Actions definitely do speak and go further than words.