Hala Fouad’s testimony
Yesterday I arrived at Maspero at about six or a quarter past. I was in Downtown and took a taxi from Talaat Harb up to Abdel Monem Riad, heading for the Ramses Hilton. I got out of the taxi before we reached the Ramses Hilton because the road was blocked with people walking in the march (which was coming from Shubra). I was on my own and walked towards the middle of the people in the march, and continued on with them. We were in front of the Ramses Hilton, it was on our right, and everything was fine. I called my husband to say everything was fine and well organised and that I would stay half an hour and then leave. The people I was walking with were simple people of every shape and size, old men and women, children, girls, young boys. The young guys made a cordon and kept the girls and women in the middle for protection because of the crowds.
For the record, the march was well organised and there was no jostling or shoving. We were walking and people were carrying crosses. They were chanting a little, saying ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ and ‘Kyrie Elaison,’ a few hymns and ‘We are not a minority, a million of us are marching,’ and a few slogans against the Governor of Aswan which I can’t remember. Anyway, the march continued, with the Ramses Hilton on our right, and we walked almost up to the building before Sadeko. I came out from amongst the people and stood on the pavement, which was halfway across the street, and I thought of going out in front of the television building, and I listened to what was being said on the platform and such. Barely three minutes later I heard the sound of shooting and an armoured vehicle belonging to the army came driving down the other side of the road (on the Nile side) at a hysterical speed. Shots were being fired, I don’t know what, but shots were coming from the vehicle. The APC was driving at a crazy speed, just like the CSF vehicles during the revolution (one vehicle, then two and then three). The vehicles were coming from the Maspero side of the road towards the beginning of the 6th October bridge. Of course people scattered left and right and dispersed, and I found myself pushed around in the commotion which started.
I escaped to the side of the building and sheltered against the wall to stop myself being pushed over by the people who were running. Actually I crossed the pavement in the middle and arrived on the other side. Barely three minutes later one of the APCs came over to our side (as in, from the Ramses Hilton to the television building). People scattered shouting and ran towards the buildings trying to enter and shelter in them. After the APC had passed, people pushed a white vehicle, I think a Lada, in the middle of the street in order to block the street against the APCs if they came back again. Of course everything was chaotic and people were running everywhere and no-one understood what was going on. After that I left, going from beside the Hilton. Soldiers from the military security were beating their shields against the ground and there were one or two commanders with them. Anyway, I left from under the bridge towards the Nile Hilton, and finished in front of Omar Makram, and I took a taxi and left.
Also for the record, the people that I saw and walked amongst were normal, humble people, not tramps; there were fat women sitting on the pavement and taking off their shoes because their feet hurt. Very ordinary people. I didn’t see any knives or sticks or clubs in the part where I was standing, they were carrying crosses. As I was walking there were a few guys, 16 or 17 years old, who began to break up bricks and throw them at the APC, which drove under the bridge, did a U-turn and then came back again. Two young guys climbed on the APC and clung onto it as it drove. Things looked like they were going to get really bad, and they did. To my sorrow, as I was walking in the street, it was the first time in my life that I felt I was not in Egypt. I was wearing a cross and walking, screaming on my own ‘They are killing people!’, and a guy in the street said: ‘I’m sorry, but you people are wrong this time.’
Published on October 10 at 8:33 am on the eyewitness’s facebook page under the title “The Battle of Maspero 9/10/2011”