By Saif Eldin Hamdan…… On Tuesday, a journalist and a photographer went on a tour at Rabaa al-Adaweya Square where supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi have camped for more than a month.
The tour included meeting with political figures and former officials as well as exploring the square of Mohamed Morsi camped out, hiking up to the minaret and visiting the protest’s press center, its podium and field hospital.
Here are some of their observations about Mohamed Morsi supporters:
It is important to point out that although I had gone to the square for a scheduled interview with a specific leading politician, during my tour I was accompanied by supporters who encouraged me to meet with former officials and families of victims.
Mohamed Morsi supporters defenses, fortifications and arming:
. At the entrance, from Moustafa al-Nahass Street, there stood cement barricades, sacks of sand and metal barriers.
. A group of protesters, armed with sticks, searched new comers and checked their identification cards for security reasons.
. There was no evidence of battles, fire arms or Molotov cocktails at the site.
The spirit of Mohamed Morsi supporters:
. There was a large number of young boys walking around, playfully spraying water on protesters in the summer heat.
. Behind the podium, a small girl sprinkled some water on my face, making the crowd and I giggle.
. I saw a man shave his beard in front of the mirror of a vehicle that initially belonged to state television.
. Mohamed Morsi protesters stepped up their efforts to show enthusiasm and high spirits when they learned we were journalists.
. A man carrying a stick and wearing a helmet approached me and asked me what Westerners think of what’s going on.
. A scuffle erupted at one of the entrances between a man who wanted to enter and a civil guard. The guard was calm and dealt with the angry man with kindness, telling him to calm down.
. We met with Mohamed al-Beltagi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Standing right next to him was a man who looked young but was tall. The young man had Guevara-like looks; his beard looked like that of the rebel Che Guevara, his eyes were blue and he wore a beret. Many journalists at the press center were surprised to find guards or aides accompany a prominent figure in his every step.
. We wanted to meet with a specific person but our escorts kept directing us towards meeting with people like a former presidential spokesman, the former youth minister, and lawyers who had joined the sit-in.
. We met with a Freedom and Justice Party member of the dissolved Shura Council. He was very friendly and cooperative.
. Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazi was conducting interviews with different media outlets while standing on the podium. Aswat Masriya was no exception.
. I met the uncle of a young man who was killed in recent clashes between Mohamed Morsi supporters and armed forces. The man cried and seemed quite touched. He talked about how his nephew excelled in his studies at Azhar and how, days before he died, he was talking of martyrdom.
At Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque with Mohamed Morsi supporters:
. Our escorts arranged for us to be taken to the roof of the mosque for some pictures of Mohamed Morsi supporters. The guard in charge accompanied us to the top of the mosque’s minaret where we took pictures.
. I thought this was the best possible angle for pictures. But after the tour, I watched al-Jazeera Channel’s coverage, and it seemed to me that they use the same angle but from a higher level.
Mohamed Morsi loyalists and field Hospital no. 2:
. There were no people wounded in clashes that broke out last Saturday.
. The supervising doctor, Reda, said that all the required items were available. He explained that this situation may change if anything comes up.
. There were four clinics with stacks of medicine, cotton and gauze nearby.
Mohamed Morsi loyalists organization:
. Organization was very strict and organizers were friendly with people.
. There was a place for lost and found items.
. A tent was set up for lawyers.
. There was a press center where several leading figures gathered. The place had cameras and a backdrop with the words “No to the Coup”. Many journalists were present.
. One section contained a large number of computers.
. Large quantities of ice cubes were distributed on small trucks. Some youths walked among the tents, calling to see if anyone needed ice.
. Our escorts urged us to break our fast with them. One said they already ordered two meals for us in the lawyers’ tent. We declined the invitation but thanked them.
At the podium of Mohamed Morsi loyalists:
. A distance of approximately five meters separates the podium and the rallying people. Organizers stand in this gap.
. Wounded people are taken outside through that gap. The demonstrators salute them as they are transported.
. A march of people carrying symbolic coffins made its way through the masses and was greeted heartily.
. At the podium, when men were asked to salute the martyrs, they started praising God. When women were asked to do the same, they ululated in a joyous manner.
Mohamed Morsi supporters: numbers:
. At 4.30 pm, around 2,000 people were gathered in front of the podium and another 2,000 were sitting in tents.
. It should be mentioned that the numbers are small due to the heat, the fasting and the fact that people usually leave work around that time.
. The escorts assured me that the number of demonstrators is significantly greater after Iftar.
. As we were leaving the square around 6 pm, we saw a march of around 400 about to join the sit-in.