egypt: improvising a revolution

Marco Longari / AFP / Getty Images

We clipped a few excerpts from the compelling Letter from Cairo: On the Square by Wendell Steavenson in a recent New Yorker, describing improvisations devised by protestors in Tahrir Square during the recent revolutionary actions:

“At Friday prayer, ranks of men laid out improvised prayer mats: kaffiyehs, newspapers, an Egyptian flag, slogan placards. They wiped their hands in the dust of the destroyed paving stones, to clean them, because the Koran says that if there is no water and you are in the desert you can use sand to clean your hands before you pray.”

…As the standoff continued, the protesters became entrenched and emboldened. People made a tent city out of concrete reinforcing rods and plastic sheeting; venders set up braziers for tea and hooked up yards of electrical cable to charge dozens of cell phones at a time; people rearranged the stockpiled stones to spell out anti-Mubarak slogans; new blankets were passed out…

…At one point, the Army tried to push a line of tanks farther into the square, near the Egyptian Museum. But the protesters staged a sit-in under the tanks…

…On the Internet, Shaath and other activists gathered ideas for countering riot police. He enumerated a few improvised tactics: ‘How to use vinegar and onions against tear gas. Things like, Don’t use water, use Coke to wipe your eyes.’

The sustained courage and ingenuity of the protesters knocked us out. Then we stumbled on an amazing slideshow at Time of makeshift headgear devised by demonstrators as protection…(some are strangely chic)…


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