Egyptian hands, tawny and wise Smashing the frames, in thunder they rise Flared in one voice, see Egypt in the sun Oh state of old men, your time is now done You ravaged our lands, rabid and old One like the other, in greed, filth and mold Wondrous buds bloomed, turned fall into spring Raising the dead, the miracle youth bring Shoot me! My murder won't bring back your state For my people I write in my blood a new fate My blood or the spring, both they are green I smile - in joy or sorrow, remains to be seen From the poem Al Midan (The Square) by Egyptian poet Abdel Rahman al Abnoudi, 2011. Tahrir Square from the series, In the Shadow of the Pyramids by Laura El-Tantawy In 2005 I began to document the lives of everyday Egyptians as an Egyptian. I took pictures of people shopping in the market, families on weekend outings, the first wave of political opposition protests led by the "Kefaya" (Enough) movement, people living on the fringes of society in burial grounds and others living on the edge of humanity amongst piles of household and hospital waste and dwelling rats. My work naturally continued through the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir (Liberation) Square and the violence instigated against the pro- democracy movement. My interest in Egypt is not simply to tell a story. Egypt is rooted in my identity, engrained in my childhood memories and the cultural and traditional practices I live by everyday. It is this connection that inspires my work and guides my quest to put in to pictures personal feelings I can only associate with the land I call my home: Egypt. A woman cries in desperation as she seeks answers from above. "I am praying to God," she said. "We are drowning." Egyptian pro-democracy protesters seen through an Egyptian flag as tens of thousands take part in a sit-in at the capital's Tahrir (Liberation) Square demanding the government step down. A man reads verses from the Holy Koran ahead of Friday prayers. Mubarak’s rule had made it virtually impossible for opposition parties to play any active political role, with the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s strongest opposition movement, being banned from political participation. The group’s members constantly faced arrest and bullying by police. In post-Mubarak Egypt, the Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi party lead a majority in parliament. A photograph captured through a hotel room window shows pro-democracy demonstrators hurling stones at pro-Mubarak supporters to prevent them from coming into Tahrir on Thursday, February 3, 2011. An anti-Mubarak demonstrator receives treatment in a makeshift clinic set-up on a street corner behind Tahrir on Wednesday February 2, 2011. Hundreds of pro-Mubarak supporters had redirected their demonstration from Moustafa Mahmoud Square in the neighborhood of Mohandessen to Tahrir Square, where they clashed with anti-government demonstrators. The day was dubbed “The Battle of the Camel” after men on horses and camels stormed the square and beat pro-democracy protesters with sticks, knives and swords. Reports say up to 650 people were injured and some media sources said a member of Parliament had hired the “thugs”. A tearful Egyptian man weeps in central Cairo. During Mubarak's rule, Egyptians grew to feel their country had been stolen from them and was owned and controlled by the minority who ruled. The class divide between rich and poor reached unprecedented levels -- the middle class in Egypt disappeared and people were classed as either rich or poor, with the latter composing the wider majority. At least 30 percent of Egyptians can not read or write and estimates say more than 10 million Egyptians are living outside Egypt in pursuit of better education, better quality of life and ultimately a better future. Tens of thousands gather in Tahrir Square waving the Egyptian flag and demanding the regime step down. Anti-government demonstrators man one of the entrances into the square, searching people as they walk in and checking their identity cards. The procedure was put in place to ensure pro-Mubarak supporters did not infiltrate the square. Pro-democracy protesters gather until the late hours of the evening conversing in politics and debating a future without Mubarak. Night-time ushers in and the square comes to life, with hundreds of protesters sleeping in makeshift tents.  The anti-government chants and patriotic songs continue through the night. Crowds shuffle through the square, late evening. An Egyptian anti-government demonstrator seen through the plastic sheeting of his makeshift tent. Night-time in Tahrir Square. A man cradles his son on his shoulders as he walks through the square. Many Egyptians felt the urge to bring their children to the square to experience "freedom". On a chilly Cairo evening, anti-government protesters huddle over a fire to sip on tea and discuss the future of the country. An Egyptian man is seen behind an Egyptian flag. A cheerless mood takes over Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Thursday February 10, 2011 as Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak addresses the people and makes it clear he will not resign, but instead hands down his power to newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman, Egypt's former spy chief who is rumored to have personally administered torture on detainees.
An anti-government demonstrator chants slogans as a carnival-like atmosphere fills Cairo's Tahrir Square. An Egyptian demonstrator waves the Egyptian flag in celebration as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets of the capital on Friday February 11, 2011 to celebrate President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak's resignation. People sang and danced on the street, breaking into chants, saying: "The People Have Toppled the Regime.” Back to current issue