| I have to say, I’m a paranoid person. After focusing most of my work on sexual harassment in Egypt, it’s fair to admit that, most of the time, I’m scared it will happen to me. That’s why I didn’t join the protests on January 25. To me, a massive protest equals harassment and violence all at once. No, thank you. I will participate from home and spread the news. I am journalist, I certainly know how to do that.But after two days of struggling with my thoughts, I couldn’t stand my fears anymore. To be terrified of walking on the streets in my own country was just unacceptable. I had to demand my rights as a woman, as an Egyptian citizen and as a human being. In that split second, I stopped being scared and decided to go to Tahrir Square.
From the first moment I set foot on Kasr El-Nil Bridge, passing the incredibly organized citizen checkpoints and saw people’s faces filled with hope and courage, I began to feel peaceful. I began to feel the humanity of each and every one of us demanding dignity and basic human rights.
This day remains one of the happiest in my life. I truly felt like I was living in Thomas More’s Utopia. The square showed Egyptians at their best.
Take it from me, paranoid Randa, I felt safer in Tahrir Square than I have ever felt in an open space in Egypt. Not a single incident of harassment, not a single dirty look, not a single derogatory comment about being a woman, nothing.
While I was walking among the crowds looking for a place to sit, I couldn’t help but smile at a man who told me: “We knew you were coming, that’s why we left the garden area for sitting.” I don’t really know what he meant, but it seemed to me like he was welcoming me to Tahrir Square. And despite all the things that were taking place at the same time, the protesting and the chanting, people were smiling. I didn’t feel the need to grab my partner’s hand for protection; I knew we were all protecting each other.
Just days earlier, that same square was the place I dreaded walking in the most. Every time I had to walk through it, I would hold my breath, pretending the harassing comments were not aimed at me. I had to pretend like I was invisible.
In less than a week, this same square became utopia. Finally, paranoid Randa felt safe in her own country, like an Egyptian at home.
But sadly this utopia was short-lived. When former President Hosni Mubarak, stepped down, in that same square, the harassment came back, occurring even during the celebrations.
So, I’m left wondering: What happened? Who were these millions of people I was marching with?
These people are the real Egyptians — the ones who cared about the country and cared about the dignity of each and every single one of us. They are the ones who made this revolution possible.
With this revolution, we took back what was ours: our country, our freedom, our dignity and our rights. Even if it takes time to get everyone to hold on to the spirit that created that utopia, I am confident that it will happen. And then all of Egypt will be Tahrir Square every day.