“Thump, thump”… The sound of tear gas canisters being fired.
“O shit, I’ve gotten too close!”
I look up. A single can is hurling in a high arc through the smoke filled air. I quickly calculate it’s trajectory and realize it is heading right for me. With no time to think, I leap to safety.
The first one lands just a few feet from where I was standing. White gas bellows out.
Almost instantaneously my eyes begin to burn like a thousand piercing needles. Then my nose, mouth and lungs become enflamed.
The second canister whizzes by my ear.
“Go, go, go,” I yell out of panic.
Then, in a mass stampede, the crowd and I retreat. Blinded by the gas, we all hold each other’s shoulders as we sprint to safety.
I jump a brick wall and land in a vacant lot. The gas keeps burning and I spit and cough in vain. Only after around ten minutes does the burning subside and my vision clear.
“Whew, that was close” I think to myself.
I make my way back to the hostel and I witness the extent of the riot police’s latest attack.
Countless people are suffering from tear gas inhalation. Some are bleeding from their heads, while others have massive welts from rubber bullets. Those too injured to walk are carried to safety by the crowd and driven away on motorcycles.
As I glance over the faces of the wounded, all I can think is “These Egyptians sure have guts.”
Following Friday’s prayers on November 18th, Egyptians returned to the place where it all began, the infamous Tahrir square.
The drums were beating, the loud speakers were out and the chanting of 100,000 + people could be heard throughout the streets of Cairo.
Today, Sunday November 20th, though their numbers have declined, due to the beginning of the Arab work week, protesters maintain a strong foot hold in the square. Despite police attempts to disperse activists, make shift camps in the middle of the square remain in place.
What the protesters are demonstrating against is a clause in the constitution that would grant the military undue power even after the civilian government is elected on November 28th. They are also calling for the removal of current military government leader, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
Though it is too early to tell if the protesters will achieve their demands, given the high morale and determination I witnessed today, the outlook is promising.