Ahdaf Soueif in Cairo: ‘By early evening it was clear that this was Revolution II’
“Eat a good breakfast. Take a rucksack with a gas mask and swimming goggles. Write your name on your arm. Write your details into a message on your mobile. And go to the Square.” The tweet appeared after three of the (at least) 38 people killed in the streets of Egypt over the last three days proved impossible to identify. It was picked up by the well-respected Egyptian daily al-Shorouk and published to #Tahrirsupplies - the hashtag that collates what you can bring in to the square if you want to help.
Egypt is much more than Tahrir Square. People across the country are demanding the abdication of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf). On Tuesday night as the news cameras concentrated on Tahrir, the army and police were attacking citizens in other places: Alexandria, Assiut, Aswan, Damietta, Ismailia, Luxor, Mahalla, Mansoura, Sohag and Suez.
And yet, of course, in this age of spectacle it was the images of Tahrir that were most shocking. We could hardly believe that Scaf would allow that image which had become such an icon across the world - Tahrir Square teeming with citizens, decorated with flags - to reappear clouded with teargas. But they did.
Throughout the day on Tuesday thousands poured into the square. By early evening it was clear that this was Revolution II. In the small hours of Sunday the little field hospital in the small mosque of Ibad al-Rahman had been pleading for a stethoscope, a blood pressure gauge, betadine, cotton wool.
By Tuesday afternoon there were five field hospitals around Tahrir stockpiled with equipment and medicines - all donated by people coming in. Two, Omar Makram Mosque and Qasr el-Doubara Church, cross-reference specialisations. On a wall between them someone has written: “We are the Square: A Church, a Mosque and a Parliament.”
The revolution is using what it learned in January and February and adding to it. Signposts, information, directions. Young men on motorbikes ferry the injured from the front lines to the field hospitals. The organisation is breathtaking. And the creativity: when Malek Mostafa - a popular, newly married young activist had his eye shot out by the army, one of the great black lions on Qasr el-Nil bridge suddenly sported an eye patch.