rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

"Free Gaza Square" in downtown Cairo

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

We took the street at a time and place of our own choosing, we marched (briefly) before being stopped by police lines, we sat and held our space in the street for forty minutes before being ejected onto the sidewalks, where we set up our own perimeter ringed by riot police, and held that space for another six hours until we left on our own terms.

It is impossible to assemble before marching in a country where police shut down any public assembly before it starts. The advantage of the area around Tahrir Square (in front of the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo) is that many people can distribute themselves around the square in twos and threes without any one group being big enough to shut down. The place was crawling with uniformed and (very obvious) plainclothes police who knew the time and place -- it was impossible to let all our groups know without the infromation getting back to them -- but they didn't know how it would begin.

Until two brave women stepped confidently into the crazy Cairo traffic and threw banners up to signal the start, and hundreds of us swarmed in their direction like purposeful peaceful bees. The "march" portion was pathetically short by any Western standards -- it began and ended in less than 40 metres in Tahrir Square. Once stopped, most of us sat and linked arms, and the police began trying to get us out of the street. We were dragged, picked up and thrown on top on others, kicked and punched (note to self: a back-pack with lots of extra bundles tried to it gives police lots of handles to grab when they pick you up). We clung to each other as much as we could during the brief intervals as smaller and smaller groups of us remained on the street. Canadian Bob Holmes and I were the last to be bodily picked up and thrown on the sidewalk.

The packs and bundles were because we came prepared to stay put, perhaps for days. We had sleeping-bags, mats, water and food, as well as markers and tape. Within minutes of being penned in on the sidewalk, we had established a spot for medical attention, for the elderly or others needing rest, a smoking area (essential for the co-existence of Europeans and North Americans, among others), a lost-and-found (my cell-phone never reappeared, my only real casualty) and had begun posting signs re-named this section of Tahrir Square as "Free Gaza Square" (Place Gaza Libre, Piazza Gaza Libera, Midan Hurra Gaza).

The Canadians had brought a small megaphone, and we had speeches from a dozen different national delegations. Our signs in Arabic drew a lot of attention from passing Egyptians, and even some of the young conscripts in the police lines were visibly moved (their officers behind them could push them forward, but they couldn't see their faces).

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.