Every place has been a witness.
For example, a city stoop. A new friend recently told about sitting on that stoop and ending a marriage. The stoop still exists and I’m sure someone else is sitting on it right now, oblivious to the fact that, over 30 years ago, it was the site of a weepy breakup.
What about Tahrir Square? It has long been a place of significance–the current clashing of antigovernment and pro-Mubarak Egyptians, the 2003 gathering against the war in Iraq, the 1977 Bread Riots, Cairo’s first bridge across the Nile leads to the square; and before its existence as a square, it was a place of importance to 13th century Egyptians, and before that, well, you know it was fertile ground on the banks of the Nile.
One journalist wrote: “Tahrir Square is to Cairo what the Champs Élysées is to Paris.”
The best description of it is here in the Al-Ahram Weekly:
“People run back and forth in a constant stream that wends its way from the Nile Hilton and the Egyptian Museum to the American University in Cairo, the Arab League to the imposing Mugamma’. “It’s the place everyone has to cross to get anywhere,” said a young banker while an older woman chipped in: “It’s crowded and noisy.” A store owner pointed out: “It’s the best place to do business,” while a foreigner commented: “It’s a real nightmare to cross.” “Tahrir is a problem,” whispered one old timer confidentially, “But then Cairo is a big problem. Don’t we love it anyway?”
I would like to read a history book narrated by Tahrir Square.
What would it say? Would it take sides?
Would it have wisdom? Probably.
The Arabic word “Tahrir” means liberation.