Reporter's Notebook: The New Tahrir Square


There are 73 political coalitions on the square, according to Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram. And as a spokesman for the April 6 Youth movement said at a press conference last week, "No one political group can call the sit-in off."

Ringing the square's center are a number of stages. On Friday, during a million-man march that didn't materialize, a band played on one stage while on two others speakers passed microphones around, leading the crowds below in chants.

As has been the case since the beginning, the gatherings are a mix of young and old, men and women, religious and secular. Families with small children sit next to university students in circles having political discussions that can get heated.

What is clear is that those on the square see this place as their key to change, that nothing will happen if the authorities -- and the world -- don't see the masses out here.

"This is the place of the people's will, this is the place people get strength and power," said Mohammed Hamdi, a 23-year-old who works in customer service for an American company.

The optimism that followed Mubarak's fall can still be felt but it is paired with anger that the revolution, their revolution, isn't turning out the way they'd hoped. And many off of Tahrir have long since tired of these protesters and their myriad complaints. Not to mention the consequences of closing off one of Cairo's main thoroughfares.

But already the Tahrir protesters are looking ahead to August when Ramadan starts, a month of fasting made all the harder because of the stifling heat.

"We're trying to do this as peacefully as we can and this is a last desperate attempt," says Salem, aka Sandmonkey. "If this fails, I'm just going to break down my tent and go home and wait for violence everywhere to erupt."

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