Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tahrir Square

For many people, Tahrir Square in Cairo is a heroic place.  It was the focal point of the 2011 Revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down as president of Egypt.  Tahrir means “Liberation”, and it is also known as Martyr’s Square in memory of the 1919 Revolution against British occupation.  

At the northern end of the Square is the Egyptian Museum, which houses many mummies, Tutankhamun’s death mask and other treasures.  We saw protests and confrontations right in front of the museum many times during the revolution. It was reported that the museum was broken into, but fortunately the damage was not too extensive. 

The square is served by the Sadat Station of the metro.  

In the south is a big traffic circle.  I have passed by the square at least 3 times. Once when we visited the Egyptian Museum, once when I came out jogging in the morning, and once when we drove by on the way to our last dinner in Egypt before going to the airport.  

On the last evening, traffic was thick and there were quite a few people on and around the square.  But they seemed to be enjoying themselves and the atmosphere was nothing like what we saw at the height of the revolution in 2011. 

In fact, some of the people we met claimed that it was no revolution, that the uprising was stirred up by enemies of Egypt, that there were far fewer people on the square than reported in the West, that Mubarak was a good president, that the Muslim Brotherhood screwed up the country, and that the present administration is running the country well.

Our tour guide in Cairo told us that she could not find any work as a tour guide for 4 years, and only recently was she able to find work again.  The turmoils in the past several years have evidently hit Egypt hard.  The tourists stopped coming.  Many of the restaurants in tourist hotspots such as Giza and Aswan have few guests.  

Things seems to be turning up recently.  I pray that the country can really concentrate on building for the future.  

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