On Feb. 6, armed with two strollers and a diaper bag, my husband, Kahlid El-Qazzaz, and I took our three kids, ages 1, 2½ and 5, to Tahrir Square. We were quite the sight amid the thousands of protesters who smiled at the children as they waved the Egyptian flags we had purchased on our way in. We were welcomed by everyone, and more than 30 people asked to take the kids’ pictures and gave them dates and other goodies.
As we stood with the thousands of protesters chanting the slogans against the regime, I was uplifted by the unity and peacefulness of the people in the square. I felt truly content and safe among these people, whom I had never met before. I could not believe that this was the same spot and the same people who had witnessed bloodshed just a few days earlier. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to continue to raise my children in Egypt if these were the men and women that they would grow to be.
Many in Egypt would be shocked to hear that I took an infant, toddler and preschooler to Tahrir, but I am happy that they witnessed this honorable revolution and saw the place where the brave men and women had stood just days before, defending their rights and freedoms. Similarly, I wanted the world to see that Tahrir Square was not a place of fear, but a place of peace, tranquility and hope.
After we returned home the kids still were chanting the songs they had heard that day. Even Fatema, who does not speak yet, waved her fist as her siblings chanted. Abdel-Rahman drew a large Egyptian flag as soon as we got home and said he would take it to Tahrir the next day. Amena, before going to bed, said, “Bokra haruh tany li masr” (Tomorrow I will go again to “Masr”).
God willing, in 20 years, in a brighter Egypt, I will tell my children the story of Tahrir Square and the trip we took, and they will tell their children of how they were part of bringing freedom to Egypt.
I urge all Egyptians to remain patient and steadfast and to join the call for change, in whatever way they can, for the sake of all of our children.
Sarah Attia, sister of Eaman Attia of the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono, is a Canadian of Egyptian descent. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering, University of Toronto, with a master’s degree in chemical engineering. She and her family have resided in Cairo, Egypt, for the past five years, where she works in education.