|English: Over 1 Million in Tahrir Square demanding the removal of the regime and for Mubarak to step down. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Friday, March 22, 2013
Tahrir Square (Arabic: ميدان التحرير Mīdān at-Taḥrīr, IPA: [meˈdæːn ettæħˈɾiːɾ], English: Liberation Square), also known as "Martyr Square", is a major public town square in Downtown Cairo, Egypt.
The square was originally called "Ismailia Square" (ميدان الأسماعيليّة Mīdān al-Ismā‘īliyyah), after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district's 'Paris on the Nile' design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, the square became widely known as Tahrir (Liberation) Square, but the square was not officially renamed until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which changed Egypt from a constitutional monarchy into arepublic. The square was a focal point for the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.
The area around Tahrir Square includes the Egyptian Museum, the House of Folklore, the National Democratic Party-NDP headquarters building, theMogamma government building, the Headquarters of the Arab League building, the Nile Hotel, Kasr El Dobara Evangelical Church and the originaldowntown campus of the American University in Cairo.
The Cairo Metro serves Tahrir Square with the Sadat Station, which is the downtown junction of the system's two lines, linking to Giza, Maadi, Helwan, and other districts and suburbs of Greater Cairo. Its underground access viaducts provide the safest routes for pedestrians crossing the broad roads of the heavily trafficked square.
The square became established as a focal point and a symbol for the ongoing Egyptian democracy demonstrations. On 2 February, violence erupted between the pro-Mubarak and pro-democracy demonstrators there, followed by the 3 February 'Friday of Departure' demonstration, one of the named "day of" events centered in the square. Within a week, due to international media coverage, the image and name of Tahrir Square became known worldwide.
The 18-day revolt centered in the square provided the Egyptian Armed Forces an opportunity to remove Mubarak from power on Friday, 11 February 2011, when the president officially stepped down from office. The announcement that Mubarak had passed all authority to the Council of the Armed Forces was made by longtime intelligence chief and new vice president Omar Suleiman. Tahrir Square erupted in a night-long celebration after the twilight announcement, with shouts such as "Lift your head up high, you're Egyptian", "Everyone who loves Egypt, come and rebuild Egypt", and others. The next day, Egyptian Cairen women and men came to clean up the square, "they came and cleaned up after their revolution," relaying 'projectiles' in the cobblestone paving and removing eighteen days' worth of trash and graffiti.
Tahrir Square, with 'democracy anniversary' celebrations and visits from foreign dignitaries, continues to be a symbol of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. British Prime Minister David Cameron, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of theEuropean Union, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry, Chairman of the American Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kevin Rudd Foreign Minister of Australia, and American actor Sean Penn visited Tahrir Square after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
On 29 June 2011, Egyptian police attacked rioting Egyptian youth in the square with tear gas and other non-lethal materials. The youth had been demanding that trials of senior officials overthrown in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution proceed more quickly. The Interior Ministry blamed the unrest on disruptive and subversive groups.
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