Saturday, 19 March 2011

The People Want a New Constitution!

Yesterday night, while driving home in a taxi, I was already able to collect some propaganda sheets which people handed out along the road. The Facebook group Almasry Alhurr distributed a small flyer in the shape of the Egyptian flag on which, in two columns, they shortly stated what they wish and what they oppose to. The conclusive propaganda slogan reads at the bottom:  “Say “no” to the reform, save your right and the rights of your children!” The taxi driver who observed my eagerness for collecting these sheets and who saw that I was reading the constitution on the back seat, told me that he was feeling quite helpless. He explained that he wants to contribute to the rebuilding of the nation but that he feels that he has not enough information to do so. Therefore, he asked me to explain to him what this constitutional issues were all about. At the same time, he expressed his and the people’s need for political education. 

Tharir Square on the 18th of March, people dancing under the Egyptian flag

At noon, on my way to Tahrir Square, the posters encouraging the Egyptians to vote “yes” at the referendum about the constitutional reform seemed to form the majority. I even witnessed how a man was tearing down the red propaganda sheets posted to the walls by the opposition. Overnight, the town had been plastered in posters with the bold written words “yes” or “no”, a view only familiar to me in this magnitude from my home country Switzerland.
On the Tahrir Square, however, solely the parties promoting the denial of constitutional reforms where represented. Academics were gathering massively and they easily recognized each other. All universities from Cairo and even from abroad seemed to have sent their delegates. This is the reason why, the normal greeting had become: “good morning, Doctor, nice to see you today! Let me introduce my colleague from the University XY to you…”
But not only the professors met on the Tahrir Square today, poets again came up to me in order to recite their work and a bunch of young men enthusiastically let me film their dance under an enormous Egyptian flag while holding up their red posters which were saying “no.”
 Tharir Square on the 18th of March, woman promoting the "no" to the reform of the constitution.
People attached to political groups or independent citizens all massively distributed flyers or even newspapers. At the same time, the army and the police were building rows around the different groups of demonstrators who were crowding around the speakers. The officers seemed to be in a good mood. Some of them even started to negotiate the price of revolution-souvenirs with a street seller and another three of them directly asked me to film them. They smiled and lined up proudly in front of my camera.

At 11pm, the political activity on Tahrir Square had still not stopped and “no”-papers were amply flying through the open windows of the bypassing cars.

Will the people vote “no”? Will the elections be fair? A caricature in the newly founded, Medan Altahrir newspaper which was distributed for free, doubts about that.
We will see tomorrow…