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“I was born when I came to Tahrir Square”: interview with a volunteer doctor
The most striking thing about Egypt’s ongoing revolution is the ecstatic expressions on the faces of the the people who are creating it. Everything that happens on Tahrir is the result of real self organisation. “There are no political parties present here, just people”, one man tells us , “we are doing everything for ourselves because we want to create something for the people”. The sense of empowerment this gives is nowhere more evident than in the busy medical centre located just outside the square. Normally a Mosque, the building is now buzzing with doctors and nurses who treat patients around the clock. At prayer time the building still fills up with worshippers who pray there, but once they are finished the work continues. All the medics are volunteers, many of whom have made significant sacrifices in order to be there. Being a doctor is one of the best paid professions in Egypt, but the three doctors on call did not hesitate to leave their jobs so that they could come here and treat the wounded.
Interview with a doctor in Tahrir Square
So, you said that you left your work to come here?
Yes. I am a surgeon and I left my job, which is over 200km away from Cairo, to come here. After what has been going on, how can I continue to take money for my work? How could I chose not to come? In Tahrir everybody works for each other and helps each other. We are like brothers and sisters. I never felt happy to be Egyptian until I came to Tahrir Square. Now I’m very proud. Finally I feel proud to be Egyptian. This is the free state of Tahrir -the real Egypt. I am not even sure I have a job to go back to in my city now.
How long have you been at this clinic?
I came here before the worst police violence on the 28th of January. When all that happened I was very scared and ran away to stay with relatives, but then I came back and I have been here since then.
What kind of injuries have you seen here? Has it been very busy?
You come at a quiet time today but the clinic has been very, very busy. After Wednesday there were people laying everywhere, with all kinds of wounds. It was horrible and very hard. We have treated people with bullet wounds. People who have been shot in the leg, arm and abdomen by the police and by the thugs who came last Wednesday. One person died in the clinic from bullet wounds. We also treated a large number of people for tear gas inhalation.
How does it feel to be a doctor here?
Before I came here I was not free and I never knew real respect. Here, in the sovereign state of Tahrir, we are all free. I was born on the 28th January when I came to Tahrir Square. We have organised everything here for ourselves, we have done things we never thought we would do and felt things we never thought we would feel. There is an old saying that says that, in life you should ‘make your friends happy and your enemies angry’ and that is what we are doing in this revolution. I will be here until we succeed.