Our revolution: a tourist attraction!

Rana Allam
7 Min Read
Rana Allam
Rana Allam

So, our esteemed Prime Minister Qandil wants to turn Tahrir Square into a “tourist attraction” and has already instructed tourism agencies to list it as such in their brochures. How sadly funny! This is one of the news headlines that compels one to stop and think of the absurdity that has come to engulf this country nowadays, and I can only remember Shafiq’s Hyde Park plan for the square!

It seems that our PM believes that everything is going smoothly now, as if no protests will hit Tahrir again, nor will there be more blood spilt in revolution square. Forget the past few days –not the past year, but the past few days– forget the brutality with which the police force dispersed protesters from inside the revolution-cum-tourist attraction square.

Regardless of whether we agree with the protests or the type of actions they took or even the type of people who were protesting, no one should fall subject to police brutality, not even mass murderers. No one should be beaten and kicked and tortured while being arrested. Our police force should get some training in that area…at least to be able to protect the prime minister’s tourist attraction. What would Tahrir tourists say when they witness Egyptians being dragged from their hair on the asphalt and kicked in their stomachs and on their heads, in the middle of a tourist tour? How will the tour guide explain that? Will he tell his group of tourists “this is for your own protection and safety, if we don’t do this, they will grope you until you die”?

Tahrir square is not just a square, in case our PM has not noticed, the square is the essence of the revolution which eventually brought him to power. It is time to “clean and beautify” the square, when the revolution has achieved its demands. First and foremost, what needs to be cleaned is the blood of those who died in the square at the hands of security forces and their thugs. And the only way to clean such blood is to bring justice to the families of the victims. When everyone responsible for killing or maiming or torturing or blinding revolutionaries is behind bars serving their deserved sentences, maybe then we can plant trees in the square.

I suppose the plan is to “clean” the square from all regular visitors, which is what needs to be done to make sure the prime minister’s tourists don’t get assaulted. Does the prime minister realise that any foreigner stepping onto the square these days gets beaten? Does he know that when foreigners (tourists or not) want to go to the square, they make sure they are escorted by a couple of Egyptians, preferably men, for protection from those staying in the square? So how does he intend to go about that? Sending his security forces to beat them up and arrest them, as is the Interior Ministry’s usual course of action?

Oh, and what about the street vendors? Those poor people who have no way of making a living except by selling tea to whomever wants some, will the government “clean” them up too? Will they move to another area and attempt to make a living there or will the government find a way for them to make a decent living? I imagine not, I imagine they will be beaten up and arrested as well. Of course, poor haggard looking street vendors are no sight for tourists. Remove them all!

The “Freedom, Social Justice and Bread” calls that rocked the square 20 months ago are now apparently fulfilled, as far as the prime minister is concerned. He probably doesn’t read the newspapers, or else he would know that there is no freedom to speak of these days, and the leaked constitution articles make the world look bleak to most Egyptians. Freedom of speech, of religion and the freedom to protest were dreams we had in Tahrir square, but now the dreams and the square are supposedly for tourists.

The prime minister obviously did not visit schools as they opened this week, nor did he visit hospitals recently and I am sure he has not driven a car on Egyptian streets for a while. The prime minister also apparently missed the wave of strikes hitting the country. If he knew all this, he would have been too embarrassed to close Tahrir to the revolution and keep it for tourists.

The prime minster wants to make the square “look” good, he wants to hide the ugliness that is spreading in Egypt like wildfire, thinking a “tourist attraction” is the solution.  More bandages over cancer, more hiding our heads in the sand, more appearances and hypocrisy.  Let’s clean Tahrir and sell it as a tourist attraction. Let’s give them the whole shebang. Let’s dress some as protesters and some as security forces, and we should not forget the thugs. We will have them act the whole thing out, so the tourists would have fun. Maybe even bring some actors, dress them in street vendors’ rags and have them sell tea, and flags and water. Some smoke, masquerading as teargas would do well, maybe a couple of gun-shots in the air.

Yeah, let’s give the prime minister’s tourists the real revolution experience.

Share This Article
Follow her on Twitter at @Run_Rana
1 Comment