February 11th, 2011, a date that the Egyptians will never forget. This is the day where they could bring down the regime without violence and without the support of the army by showing the Tahrir Square (Liberation) for 18 days.
Horns, music, fireworks ... It was like a night of a football game after a victory, except that the atmosphere is much more intense ... That day, the Democratic Republic of Tahrir has achieved its goal: overthrow Mubarak.
The protesters who came out from home on January 25th to seek their freedom from a dictatorial regime, now want to celebrate, every year, this experience that allowed them to discover themselves.
This experience helped the Egyptian people to find such values as love, solidarity, dignity ... values that were being lost because of the oppression that they suffered for 30 years.
A virtual "state" was created on the square in downtown of Cairo. First aid centers, an organizing committees, one for security, others to clean up or for the entry of vendors, committees for food, stages used as radio stations to express the different opinions on the square...
The Tahrir Square has helped me discover a lot of things", said Mohammad, 19 years old, who runs a small coffee illegally and came to join the demonstrators to protest against police violence. "Before the Revolution, I understood nothing about politics. Once I decided to come to see what is happening here, the first who spoke to me was a young man who speaks several languages. It disgusted me and i thought that demonstrators are only young citizens who have a little free time and do not need money. But, he asked me why I came ... I told him that every time I returned home late, I met a policeman on the street that he leads me to the police station and I do not go out after I pay a pot of wine that is to say the small amount money I earn a day... I spent two hours with this young man who explained why they are here and that they are defending all the Egyptians. He even proved that there is no difference between rich and poor in the square. They sleep all over the place under the same cover and share the same meal".
Despite their fatigue and their dirty faces after more than two weeks of protests, Muslims, Copts, men, women, are unable to leave the place where they lived together to achieve their goal : to see their country free and democratic.
"We have lived here like brothers and sisters", said Salma, a young film director of 23 years. "I had no contact with the Muslim Brothers or with the Salafists. On the square, I found that they are pacifists like us. They want the same thing as us. The only difference between us is how to practice religion ... They also have discovered that we are no longer the devils for them because we do not wear the veil".
An idea shared with Omar, a young 24 year old who just finished his studies and belongs to a high social environment. For Omar, it's the regime who wanted to derail the revolution by launching the plot as how it was run by the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal is to get the support of the West islamolophobe. "Stop the lies, says Omar, Here on the square there is no religious emblem. It is a national revolution that brings together religious and secular, Christians and Muslims, old and young, the poor and rich ... It has never been a revolution to establish an Islamic state".
Three weeks before the "White" revolution, relations between Muslims and Christians have witnessed an unprecedented deterioration due to the bombing that targeted the Church of al-Quidissein in Alexandria on January 1st. But Tahrir Square has changed everything. Now, Christians never accuse Muslims to be behind this attack. For Father Mina who is on the square to conduct Masses held during the demonstrations, "is the regime that planned the attack to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims. The goal was to attract the attention of people away from corruption and other crimes the regime committed .. Look, when we pray, it is the Muslims who protect us against any possible attack plan against the square and when they pray we take over", said he. "Don't you find it strange that despite the withdrawal of police from the streets of Cairo and Alexandria on January 28th, and the chaos that ruled no church in these cities has been affected? All the people has defended them", he adds.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists have been clearly seen for the first time on Tahrir Square in the afternoon of Wednesday February 2nd when the regime has used the baltaguis (criminals) and the secret police, disguised as a pro-Mubarak demonstrators, to attack the protesters and evacuate Tahrir Square. These so-called pro-Mubarak used live ammunition, Molotov cocktails, the sulfuric acid, knives and stones in the attack.
Young Muslim brothers rushed to the spot to rescue the demonstrators and organize the defense of the square. Repressed by the authorities for 30 years, the Brotherhood has extensive experience in this fight against such attacks.
Peter, a young Christian, became friend with Tawfiq, one of the Muslim Brothers. They thank God they came. "We were on the verge of being massacred. They came in many to save us...Tawfiq saved me when i was stuck by two baltaguis in a dead end overlooking the square". For Tawfiq, he did nothing extraordinary. "I was at home when I saw on TV the massacre organized by the regime against the protesters on Tahrir Square. I found myself, without thinking, on Tahrir Square to defend them. It was not a initiative of the Muslim Brotherhood. All Egyptians rushed to save this beautiful peaceful revolution".
Youssef, a young Muslim brother, do not understand why the West is afraid of the Muslim brotherhood. "The Western people do not live in Egypt. They do not know that in my village in the Delta (northern Cairo) the government does not provide services, the Brotherhood is offering what it can to villagers Muslims and Christians, where does its popularity". For Youssef, the experience of the Democratic Republic of Tahrir is evidence of the coexistence of all. "I take my breakfast with the secular Muslims, my lunch with the Muslim Brotherhood and my dinner with the Copts... I hope this continues".
Gamal Hanafi, a Muslim Brother, former MP, and member of Board of the union lawyers, justified the official absence of the Muslim Brotherhood during the first days of the revolution. "These are young people who have called for these demonstrations, we did not want to steal their revolution besides The regime would use us as an excuse to kill this revolution but we were in the street with young people as part of the Egyptians", he said.
To relieve the West and the Egyptians, the Muslim Brotherhood pledged to show no presidential candidate in September. In addition, Gamal Hanafi said that Muslim brothers will lay their nominations in 35% of the constituencies in the legislative as usual. "What we want is democratie, justice and transparancy", he said.
Abdallah, a secular Muslim from Cairo, admits that before the revolution he was afraid that the Muslim brothers take the reins of the country. But after three weeks on the square, he has no fear. "They are not monsters, and even if they are, if we want a true democracy and in the majority of Egyptians elect them, we have to accept the people's choice ... the West must stop its hypocrisy and its support for corrupted regimes".
This article was written for the french magazine "Courrier de l'Atlas"