- Life Style
“Welcome to the new Egypt,” says Hagar, seven years old. Hagar is one of the thousands of children joining in Egypt's ongoing demonstrations, which follow a protest on Friday in which many were injured or killed by central security forces. The presence of Hagar and other youngsters at these later demonstrations contributes to a more familiar and reassuring atmosphere in Tahrir Square, Cairo's main gathering point for protesters.
Entire families go back and forth with their kids, chanting and showing off their posters and placards, asking President Hosni Mubarak to step down, and demanding employment, better education and a future for the younger generation.
“I want my sons to see the freedom I never saw,” Sayyed, a 40-year-old small business owner, tells Al-Masry Al-Youm when asked why he decided to bring his sons, aged 11 and eight, to Tahrir Square on Monday. “I went alone on Friday because it was too dangerous, but now they have to be here. I want them to have their honor back, to express their opinion freely, to earn a decent wage, and to have their country respected here as well as abroad. This is the only way for them to have a future.”
Children and even babies gaze around wondering what is happening, clutching at their parents so as not to get lost in the crowd but curious to know what all the people are doing here.
Mariam, ten years old, seems excited when her older sister and brother explain that their family has decided to go onto the streets for the first time, with the aim of staying overnight. “We are not scared and we are very happy to be here,” her older sister says.
Mohammed al-Sayyed, 36 years, is still in Tahrir Square at 10 PM along with his wife, and his children--a toddler and a six-year-old. “I brought my kids here today so they can see where we were shot at,” he tells Al-Masry Al-Youm. “I want them to know why we were here on Friday and what was happening to us. Because I’m married and I have children, there is nothing else I desire in life. It’s all for our children, that’s why we came here.”
Mohamed, seven years old, flushes with excitement when he understands he is being interviewed. “I’m happy to be here,” he says. “I’m here to defend my country.”
The desire for a better future seems to be the main reason why parents have decided to join the demonstrations with their children, overcoming their fear of disorder. The young protesters mostly repeat the same thoughts as their parents, but it's clear they are enjoying the atmosphere and don't feel scared or intimidated.
Youssef’s father is persuaded that his 11-year-old son “must be involved because this is a historic moment.” Every day Youssef comes by car to an area nearby Tahrir Square, and he spends the night there. “The situation has changed after 30 years, because now we feel supported by the youth, which make us feel stronger.”