The time difference meant that when I woke up on Friday January 28th of last year, Tahrir was already ablaze. I remember waking up that day and immediately reading the news. Watching the events unfold threw me in an emotional roller coaster that did not end for weeks.
I spent that day glued to my laptop, shifting from watching different news channels, to getting more news from mainstream media sites, Facebook and Twitter. I vaguely remember not eating that day. I knew that Egyptians had taken to the streets since January 25th, I had even received Facebook invites for that day. I saw the masses of people chanting for Mubarak to leave. But nothing would prepare me for that Friday when things took a very violent turn, generating shock waves across Egypt and the World.
In the following days, I put aside my thesis and spent almost every waking hour following the news. I even made it through NYC’s snow and cold to the rallies that the Egyptian community had organized. I went to every possible talk On-Campus, Off-Campus, Uptown, Downtown that discussed Egypt and the ‘Arab Spring’.
Then on that fateful day, February 11th, Mubarak was gone, or at least no longer President. I was overjoyed, thrilled! Filled with hope for a better future in Egypt, yet wary of the consequences of a military take over and a well organized Muslim Brother hood…
Since Mubarak’s resignation much has happened: a national referendum, a Parliamentary election, more clashes in Tahrir and Maspiro, a lot more civilian deaths and thousands of arrests. What was a moment of triumph for the young Egyptian revolutionaries started to look more like an ongoing battle for their freedom. Today, a year later, we know that this revolution is far from over.
After spending 4 years in Egypt, I left it with a heavy heart knowing that I will always remain connected to that place. Seeing the images of Egyptians fighting for their freedom from the same Tahrir I passed through on a daily basis made this revolution even more personal to me. I truly hope that the Egyptian people succeed in what they went out to accomplish, and because it has taken them years to arrive to this moment, something tells me they’re not about to back down any time soon.