A View From Above

The running joke here is that there's never a dull day in Egypt. Often it involves terrifying highways or the hilarity that can ensue when simple jobs or task go awry. Like cafes that have no hot water.

Lately, however, the excitement has mixed with frustration, resulting in a week of tumultuous politics.

The Constituent Assembly, which had been given an extra two months by President Mohamed Morsi to draft the Constitution, announced yesterday they had voted on and approved a final draft. Many groups were angered by this, claiming that since the more liberal groups as well as Christians had left the drafting, the document lacked sufficient input. Understandably, this led for groups to call for change (or a second revolution). Morsi aired pre-recored remarks last night to stress the temporary nature of his new powers. This seemed to do little to quell the unrest.

Typically, Friday (the day of prayer) is when the crowds gather in the square to protest. Today was no exception.

Amru, the local photographer celebrity, got us onto the roof overlooking the entire square. Al Jazeera allegedly pays 4,000 LE ($700)/day to use this area. We paid 50 LE ($8). It gave us an unreal view of the protests unfolding. Seeing it from above just puts into perspective how many people show up. The shots below have tens of thousands, but after we had to leave the roof, it ended up close to 100,000. 

One of my favourite parts of protests in Tahrir (other than the incredible energy) is the smell. Vendors push around carts of  sweet potatoes and corn roasting over charcoals. The woody, smoky smell curls up over their carts and wafts around the square.

The smells mix with the never-ending chants for Morsi to step down, the sun starts to set, and the feeling drifting over the crowds is just amazing.

As my favourite cab driver ever, Mohamed, remarked on Thursday evening:

"The people won't let Morsi say and do these things and get away with it."

This seems to be the general theme of the protests. Until Morsi scales back his new powers and a new constitution that is made up of all groups in Egypt, the square won't be empty for a long time.

The sun sets over Tahrir Square. I wish words could capture how amazing the scene was. A mere photo will have to suffice.

The sun sets over Tahrir Square. I wish words could capture how amazing the scene was. A mere photo will have to suffice.

This looks like it'll be the scene for the next few days until an agreement is reached.

This looks like it'll be the scene for the next few days until an agreement is reached.

Other than the light, the one thing I love about this picture is the small photo of Morsi wearing a crown. Enough said.

Other than the light, the one thing I love about this picture is the small photo of Morsi wearing a crown. Enough said.

The sights, the smells, the sounds. It doesn't get much better.

The sights, the smells, the sounds. It doesn't get much better.

Women have had a difficult time in the Square in terms of sexual harassment. So much so, that a group called Tahrir Bodyguards helps to escort women so that they are protected. Everyone should get the chance to protest and not have to worry about being harassed.

Women have had a difficult time in the Square in terms of sexual harassment. So much so, that a group called Tahrir Bodyguards helps to escort women so that they are protected. Everyone should get the chance to protest and not have to worry about being harassed.

Revolution both divides and unites the people. Often at the same time.

Revolution both divides and unites the people. Often at the same time.

Being in the middle of the Ultras (super-intense football fans) as they remember their fallen member can be a very overwhelming experience.

Being in the middle of the Ultras (super-intense football fans) as they remember their fallen member can be a very overwhelming experience.

Chants agains the government and Morsi are framed against the graffiti of Mohamed Mahmoud Street. The murals depict those who died during the clashes last year.

Chants agains the government and Morsi are framed against the graffiti of Mohamed Mahmoud Street. The murals depict those who died during the clashes last year.