Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Parting the Once-Jubilant Sea

The crowd at Tahrir Square last night was second only in size in my experience here to that which celebrated the one week anniversary (Feb 18) of Mubarak's ouster. Aside from the slightly looser density, last night's crowd differed notably in its careful orchestration. Whereas the countless thousands of Feb 18 milled randomly about in utter excitement and relief, last night's group mostly was observing, or taking a respit from, the clashes occurring on the main artery leading outward from the Square toward the Interior Ministry building.

Likely by signals unknown to me, the crowd would suddenly part, with the corridor flanked by arm-locked cordons of men of all ages, to allow passage of emergency vehicles that either deposited the wounded in the roundabout or took them on further to the makeship hospital in the nearby mosque. This happened repeatedly, at least every 2 minutes, for the full 2 hours that I watched. Some vehicles were simple motorcycles carrying an individual overcome by tear gas. These corridors allowed traffic in both directions, however, as ambulances made their way to the front line to pick up those more severely injured, or to the roundabout to collect those who afterall needed more attention than originally thought.

I left the Square at 1:30am and there was no sign of dwindling as just as many flowed into it as were leaving.

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