News / Middle East

Cairo Protesters In Jubilant Mood

Anti-government protesters react in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
Anti-government protesters react in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011

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A sea of jubilant protesters filled the vast Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo on Friday. They sang protest songs, and chanted that it is time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go. Most of them are young and euphoric at their growing power.

Ramy Essam has a modest following on YouTube. But here in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, the 23-year-old engineering student is something of a superstar.

He's also injured. Bandages on his head and jaw bear testimony to the previous days' bloody clashes with pro-government mobs that tried to move in to Liberation Square. Many of the anti-government protesters say they thought they were going to die.

But on Friday, the pro-government mobs had vanished. Exhilarated, the protesters kissed each other and sang along with Essam among the burned out hulks of vehicles and chunks of concrete strewn about the pavement.

Watch Video of Friday's Protests in Cairo

And even though the president remained in power, Essam was triumphant. "Our revolution has succeeded! And we will stay here in Tahrir Square until Hosni Mubarak goes away," he said.

A young woman standing next to Essam explained what his songs are about. "He's describing how youth are living. They can't find jobs. They are suffering, even if they work - their salaries are not enough to do anything. You cannot rent an apartment, the suffering that the youth is (enduring) in this country," she said.

When asked if they were friends, she said, "We just met here in the revolution and we became friends."

"More than friends! Brothers and Sisters," replied Essam.

Nirvana Said has been protesting since the first day, January 25. "The solidarity here is amazing. And the spirit is beautiful. We all want the same thing. We want freedom. We want to be treated like humans," she said.

Watch a Related Video from VOA's Luis Ramirez

Army tanks blocked the entrances to the square, and hundreds of volunteers frisked people coming in. Once inside, many knelt in prayer at the designated times. At other times, groups of protesters marched around, making up chants.

This one means, "There is a guy who has been lost for 30 years. His name is Hosni Mubarak.


Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

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