Democracy Now! senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous is in Egypt now and shares his thoughts on what he's seen there, the transformation of a country he once knew. You can follow his tweets @sharifkouddous.
Transcript via Democracy Now!.
AMY GOODMAN: Sharif, you landed in your home city of Cairo just a few days ago, but it was not the same country you grew up in. Describe your feelings and what you have found, but start at the airport.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Amy, I’ve traveled to Egypt countless times from the United States after I moved there for college and then work, and when my plane from JFK touched down in Cairo International Airport on Saturday, the day after the massive protest where the protesters beat back the Interior Ministry, police and state security forces, I did land in a different country than the one I had known my entire life. Egypt has been reborn. This is not the Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt anymore. And no matter what happens next, it will never be again.
This is a unprecedented popular uprising, the likes of which myself and many others never thought they would see under President Mubarak. They are taking to the streets, men and women, rich and poor, all segments of society. They are defying the curfew for the past few days, packing into Tahrir Square. And their mood is celebratory, and it’s victorious. They are sure. They are sure that they will not leave until Mubarak does. And they are chanting in the streets every day.
They talk about what has taken place over the past week with such pride in what they have done. Tomorrow marks a week from the January 25th National Police Day, when the first protest began, and culminated on Friday. Friday was essentially a battle between the Interior Ministry and the people, and the people won. They talk about how they came up on the bridges leading to Tahrir, faced off with hundreds and hundreds of riot police from the Interior Ministry, from the state security forces, and were met with violence. They talk with how they walked with their hands up in the air, showing that they were coming peacefully, chanting, "Salmiya! Salmiya!" which means "Peacefully." And they were beat down. They were tear-gassed over and over again.