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Tahrir at Midnight: Protesting the Constitutional Decree

Tahrir at Midnight: Protesting the Constitutional Decree

[Tahrir Square, Cairo, 5 December 2012.] [Tahrir Square, Cairo, 5 December 2012.]

Photos by Bassam Haddad. Text by Ziad Abu-Rish and Bassam Haddad.

[If the images do not show below, click here]

After midnight, in the early hours of Wednesday 5 December 2012, I (Bassam) headed to Tahrir Square, which continued to be a flash point of contentious politics and opposition to the Egyptian president's constitutional decree of 22 November 2012

[The day after, i headed to the Presidential Palace to visit the Brotherhood's sit in, and I got more than I bargained for. See post here]

The banners, signs, and bodies that filled the square were not simply leftovers from one of the many protests held across the country earlier in the day, but evidence of an ongoing commitment to "hold the square" on the part of activists and lay people alike. Tahrir Square was certainly not the only center of protest activity in Cairo. Indeed opposition activists and groups had organized a separate march on the Presidential Palace in Ittihadiyya earlier on Tuesday, which by nightfall had transformed into a sit-in in defiance of attacks by both security forces and Muslim Brotherhood members. That particular march and sit-in reportedly forced President Morsi to flee the palace. Nevertheless, as sites of contestation and protest tactics expand, Tahrir Square continues to be an important hub for giving voice, community, and inspiration to the spirit of the uprising and the desire for accountability and transparency.

What I found to be interesting in Tahrir based on continuous discussions there is the remarkable diversity of people and orientations, brought together by opposition to those who wield power in Egypt today. People were eager to speak out and share some very strong views on Morsi and the Ikhwaan. It was as though the sanctity of the Brotherhood (to the extent it existed prio) was stripped/shattered. Never before was Egypt so divided along such lines, at least not in the past four decades. Another interesting development is the incidental affinity between sympathizers of the former regime and the rest of the revolutionaries who find themselves in the same camp, though not for exactly the same reasons (a topic to be addressed elsewhere). At tahrir, they sat side by side, focused on what they consider the issue/culprit at hand. One could see a storm coming.

[Spoke too soon. As this piece is posted, violent clashes are taking place at Ittihaadiyya, near the Presidential Palace. The air is quite thick now in Cairo. Headed to the scene! Updates to this post later this evening, Cairo time]

[Update: Click HERE to read about (and watch) the developments during the trip to the Presidential Palace and its vicinity]

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