Friday April 8th witnessed another successful Tahrir protest. That is, until things got pretty ugly.
First, let's start with the good part of the day. Protesters planned Friday's million-man/woman protest to exert pressure on the army to speed trials of Mubarak and his thugs. There were also protesters who were calling for the replacement of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces with a civilian council that will lead Egypt through democratic presidential elections.
So how did things go bad? It probably started with the few army officers who decided to protest on Friday. These are alleged officers who are against the SCAF and its leader, Tantawi. The officers said they are joining to support the people and to voice their anger and disapproval of current events in Egypt.
I have to be honest, I am one of the people who welcomed the officers' initiative with open arms. I was glad to finally see army members waking up and joining us in our call for more efficiency and speed with punishments of Mubarak and NDP thugs.
This doesn't mean that I am against the army. Not at all, I've said this before and will say it again, I have grown up with the deepest respect for the Egyptian army. My father is a retired army general and I have nothing but respect for army officers, based on what I have lived with and witnessed throughout my life from my father and his army friends.
But I was also growing more and more impatient with the SCAF. This council has been way too slow and lenient with the people who have brought Egypt to its current state of poverty and corruption. The council has also been extremely vague and lacking transparency in its dealings with the public. In everything from accounts of torture to virginity tests for women, the council has either denied or said nothing. We need more transparency; we need the council to be on top of its game and to come out with immediate explanations of what's happening.
So, back to Tahrir and the couple of hundred officers who joined the protests yesterday, why were many Egyptians worried about this move? People were afraid that our support of these officers would be misread as clear defiance against the army as an institution. Others were also questioning these alleged officers. I keep saying 'alleged' because there are still those who think they are not even officers and were just civilians in uniform pretending to be army in a dirty plan to divide the people and the army!
So, again, back to Tahrir: Curfew starts at 2 a.m. and when the officers joined Tahrir, many protesters felt a need to stay with the officers all night (I guess officers couldn't leave once they joined the protests in fear of arrests). So at 2 a.m., the peaceful scene in Tahrir changed to ugly gunfire attacks and lead to the death of one person, 70-something injured and the arrest of most of the army officers.
I guess, I'm really confused now. I'm mad and angry that the ugly attack took place. I'm also confused from SCAF's news conference earlier today. The army officials were explaining yesterday's events and they insisted there was no gunfire. So what were the loud, ugly shots that were non-stop from 2 a.m. until almost 6 a.m.??
But, as much as I am confused and angry at the army, I am also angry at protesters for not respecting the curfew! We need to abide by these rules because they are also protecting us. With thugs and everything else going on, the army is right in enforcing these rules, so we should not be testing the army! That was a big mistake, even if the intentions were noble.
Last night, in my opinion, was the first clear crack in the army-people relationship. It is a move I fear we will regret in future. As much as I hate the way SCAF is handling the country, I also don't want to lose them. We can't forget that the army protected us in Tahrir and saved us! Yes, I say saved us, because these officers, who are loyal to the people, refused to carry out Mubarak's orders and attack protesters!
What makes things worse is protesters are defying the army once again. They are out in Tahrir right this minute and waiting for the army to attack. Again, we are causing the crack to widen with our growing defiance and challenging of the army.
I understand how many protesters feel right now. And I am not in Tahrir and have not experienced these brutal attacks, but I can imagine how humiliating and horrifying these experiences must have been. But I also feel we need to be rational and we should not take things too far with SCAF.
I also want to bring your attention to another danger. Do you realize that we are doing exactly what Mubarak and his thugs want us to do? We are falling into a web of distrust and defiance and slowly losing our strongest ally in this revolution. And deeper we fall into this trap, the less attention we pay to corruption trials and other dangerous moves by the counter revolution team!
It's not only that, but last night's events are causing pro revolution Egyptians to disagree and separate as well. I was on Twitter all night following the events in Tahrir, and the majority of the tweets were from people blaming each other or saying, "I told you so!" Again, we need to calm down and realize who's benefiting from our disagreement; we are making one group of people so happy right now!!
So, please, let's slow down and think rationally about these events. Let's focus on enforcing change without losing our ally and protector. Yes, SCAF is horribly slow and cannot be trusted 100 percent, but we can exert pressure on this council without being outright defiant. We're already doing this really well and it's been effective (we have come to expect good news on long-awaited arrests or trials every Thursday or lelya el millionia as we say).
And let's not forget that we need to stay united. We can't lose the Tahrir spirit and unity now; our struggle is not over and will NOT be over until every single corrupt official is trialed and until we can enjoy democratic rule. So, stop the blame game and the arguments over petty issues, and let's organize our strength to work out our list of demands for next Friday's million protest Inshaa Allah!