The Hyde Park of Egypt

At a café in Fustat. (Trudy Rubin / Inquirer Staff)

Tahrir Square has become the Hyde Park of Egypt, with everyone free to express their opinion for the first time in thirty years. Hundreds of people are displaying signs, small and large, from individual grievances to calls for the release of political prisoners, to demands for the army to immediately make more sweeping changes in the government.

Islamists are holding lists of their comrades who are still being held in prison. Individual teachers, engineers, professors, etc. are holding hand lettered placards, mostly damning the Mubarak regime’s corruption and asking the army to fire all cabinet members who belonged to his governing party.

Among the more moving signs I saw was a long banner with a picture of Lt. Ahmed Shamli, an officer who gave his rifle to his colleagues and joined the demonstrators last week. He has been sentenced to 25 years. His brother Wael, who was holding one end of the banner, said he’d visited Ahmed in prison yesterday and his brother had said, “If they send me to my death, I’m still happy I did what I did.”