Tue, 17 Sep 2013 - 01:38 GMT
Tue, 17 Sep 2013 - 01:38 GMT
|Sarah Abdelrahman finds herself ‘reborn’ amid the country’s uprising By Passant Rabie|
| On January 26, the day after the beginning of Egypt’s revolt, Sarah Abdelrahman announced to her parents that she was changing her birthday to January 25. She even changed the date on her Facebook profile because, for her, that was the day she was reborn.
Just hours before, Abdelrahman had been in Tahrir Square with protesters vowing to stay until President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. As police moved in to clear the square, she was tear-gassed and struck with water cannons.Aside from attending a couple of on-campus sit-ins at the American University in Cairo (AUC), where she is a senior majoring in mass communication and theater, Abdelrahman had never been to a protest and has no political affiliations. Still, after hearing about the protests through friends and Facebook, the 23-year-old decided to take to the streets on January 25 to fight for her rights and the rights of her people.
“I felt that there was so much injustice in Egypt, and the fact that the protest was peaceful made it very appealing to me,” says Abdelrahman. “I was protesting for democracy, freedom, freedom of speech and social justice.”Even when protestors clashed with police, she stuck through it. On January 28, the Friday of Anger, she was severely beaten on her back with sticks, while many of her friends were struck by rubber bullets. Yet she continued to go back to Tahrir Square every day. “The beatings and injuries would motivate everyone to keep going back.” Abdelrahman recalls that at one point on January 28, she was on the front line against the police, who were trying to disperse the protests, and was starting to lose hope. Just when protestors began to retreat, and she thought that they had lost this battle, a wave of new protestors arrived and pushed through the line of police forces. “When you see everyone around you still fighting, it motivates you even more,” says Abdelrahman. “It was a roller coaster of emotions, a rush of adrenaline, [rather than] getting scared or being angry.” On February 2, what the protesters call Black Wednesday, Mubarak supporters charged the square on horses and camels in an assault that turned into an hours-long battle involving rocks, Molotov cocktails and guns. Abdelrahman was so overwhelmed with emotion that she went up to military officers observing the melee and began pushing them, asking, “Why aren’t you doing anything?” When the violence calmed down, Abdelrahman was able to spend what she refers to as the most memorable time of the 18 days of uprising simply mingling with all the different people occupying the square. “I was so happy with the environment,” she says. “Everyone was really friendly, and it turned to an Egyptian utopia.” Abdelrahman spent most of her time simply talking with people from different classes, age groups and backgrounds. They would even play a game of democracy where someone would pretend to be the leader of Egypt and announce the changes they would make and how they wish the country could be. The people whose lives left the most impact on her were the street children, with whom she became really close. The AUC student has vowed to figure out a way to help them once everything has settled down. “This was a revolution for me as well,” says Abdelrahman. “I personally changed and became a new person, and Tahrir is the place where it was all born.”
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