tahrir sqaure from the heart of the revolution to a vendors market
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
Egypt Today, egypt today
Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
Egypt Today, egypt today

Tahrir Sqaure: From the heart of the revolution to a vendor's market

Egypt Today, egypt today

tahrir sqaure from the heart of the revolution to a vendors market

Khaled Hassanin

Tahrir Sqaure - the talk of the world for weeks during the revolution and after, which world leaders visit to have their photograph taken and which bore witness to the triumphant million-strong demonstrations and the events the followed them in defence of justice and freedom. How is it now? What's inside it and who lives in it? Yards away from each of the revolutionaries' tents in Tahrir Square, one finds a street vendor, either male or female, peddling their goods in the hope of achieving a reasonable income to help them survive. Even odder, some use the square to display their goods during the day and as a shelter and sleeping area at night. Arabstoday has toured the square to learn its backstage secrets away from the million-strong protests. A Kleenex saleswoman is hoping that her stock will be bought off so she can make a handful of pounds. She says: "We live here in the square. Sleep here too, with our kids." She adds: "We hear gunshot day and night and we're terrified to death, but we don't know where the noise is coming from. A week ago, a little boy was stabbed by a bunch of people nobody knew while he was selling incense. He's now in hospital. We have a lot of difficulties, but there is no better alternative to the square for work because there's a lot of customers here and you know you'll sell more." Nahed, who sells boiled lupin beans, says she tries to pick a living in Tahrir but is "scared of the night." She says: "We hear gunshot coming from everywhere, but we leave it up to God. There's no shelter for us except the square." She is forced to risk her safety to feed her children. She adds: "We feel safe in the mornings because the revolutionaries are with us and protest us from the thugs." Om Aya, the tea lady, says she came to square seeking an income because she's desperate. She's constantly afraid of death but tries to make enough money to stave off hunger from her children. She asks: "Why don't they protect us from the thugs who terrorise and threaten us and commit all sorts of crimes?" Security just gets worse every day, she says. Quietly, Ami Ali, who sells flags and signs, says he comes here every day to sell as many flags as possible as well as other cheap signs. At the end of the day, he uses the money to buy things for his children. Saber, the young man who sells baked sweet potatoes, is afraid of the thugs and the police: they're both after him. With a single glance at the square, one finds the young children who are heavily present at Mohammed Mahmoud and Sheikh Rihan Streets. They have an odd function: they throw rocks and police personnel. Many of them are homeless. The reason behind this phenomenon, of course, is that they are paid by unknown parties. Some of them are the children of street vendors who are hoping to make a few extra pounds at the expense of their children's lives. In the corridors of underground stations, one finds find children displays of merchandise that they peddle to passengers during the day. At night, they sleep in the same spot, despite the harsh cold which chills them to the bone. Meanwhile, the owners of shops near the square suffer from no end of troubles: sales have been slashed due to political events and demonstrations as well to the presence of street vendors who block the path up to the shop. Shoppers have stopped going there because vendors harass them and thugs, who have become a phenomenon worthy of concern, are everywhere. There is also a number of street vendors who hock similar but lower quality merchandise compared to the ones in the shops. Their low prices allow them to pinch the shops' customers, leaving the shop owners their burdens of rent, tax, utility bills and other expenses related to the upkeep of their businesses.  

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tahrir sqaure from the heart of the revolution to a vendors market tahrir sqaure from the heart of the revolution to a vendors market

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