On the side streets where the American embassy is located in Garden City, a large amount of tear gas diffused, causing many in the neighborhood to stay indoors. I for one got a good taste of what tear gas felt and tasted like because of this, since I was visiting a friend who lived in Garden City. The scent irritated my senses, making my throat and nose itch, whilst I slowly found tears coming from my eyes.
We arrived on the scene around 1:30 am to find a large crowd where Mohamed Mahmoud turns into Latin America Street, next to Tahrir Square. Only several women were in sight, but a surprisingly large number of teenage boys were there. The boys seemed to be showing others that they were defiant and looking for an adrenaline rush, as if trying to prove themselves to their other friends.
The clashes were as follows: the protesters would move forward only to turn around, once the teargas was shot in the air or when the Central Security Forces (CSF) truck would come charging their way. I also got caught in this as well, albeit being at the backend of the frontline.
I was watching the protesters movements in fascination, when suddenly I saw them all turn around and run like a herd in my direction (Not sure because of tear gas or the trucks). At the sight of that, I warned my friend and he swiftly grabbed me and yelled, “Run!”
It was exciting and scary at once, the biggest adrenaline rush I had had in awhile! Slowly, the protesters would inch forward again and this was repeated throughout the night.
Many of the younger protesters had attempted to break apart walls and slabs of concrete to use as rocks to throw. Some had arrived with small Molotovs to cast at the police. We decided not to stay much longer because the protesters told us CSF trucks were going to corner them via Kasr al-Nile Bridge. As a result, we were forced to take Kasr al-Aini street, to head to my friend’s in Garden City since the protesters were stopping cabs and cars from entering Tahrir Square.
On Kasr al-Aini, we spotted a woman in hijab grab a window frame from a run down building. We were not sure what she intended on doing with until she remarked, “I’m going to hit the police with this!” A protester with a surgical mask started following her. He noticing us looking on and said, “I’m not going to let her go alone!” We all happened to walk into the same side street, where sure enough a large coil of barbed wire blocked what would be a street leading to the American Embassy. At the sight of all of us, the police who were just relaxing up until then, suddenly rose up and stood forward. Apparently they thought we were the start of a mob that would be making their way. When the woman saw this, her eyes grew wide and she made a little laugh, turned back around and left. It was a humorous sight, but I commend her for her attempted bravery.
The reason it is no longer convincing the clashes by the American Embassy were about the Prophet was because several backstreets led to the embassy. If the protesters truly aimed at attacking the embassy further, they would have surrounded it from all ends. Instead it was by a couple streets connecting to Tahrir.
The next night, it seemed like the number of protesters had reduced and that they had moved deeper into the street. All we could do was observe from afar since there was an air of unease, as two teenagers on a motorbike questioned where we were from. Many journalists on Friday felt large-scale xenophobia as many were accused of being American albeit being of a different nationality. Four ambulances had lined up in Tahrir in case protesters got injured.
On Saturday, Egyptian police finally cleared out the area after four days of clashes. I must say, this was the least bloody of the clashes we had seen since the January 25th Revolution. There is a slight difference between Morsi and Mubarak, it seems.By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Columnist