- Posted August 15, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protests in Egypt: Your experiences
Michael Campbell: An American who spent all day photographing the protests in Cairo NSFW
Hey guys, I've been traveling around Europe this summer and have ended up in Cairo. I spent today 8/14 in Giza Nasser Elden trying to get an unbiased first hand account of what's going on.
From the Giza metro station I heard automatic gunfire and saw a huge plume of black smoke off in the distance. When I arrived, the protest was already underway. Imagine a long street without any roads crossing it. On one end a couple high rises and the military. On the other end the protestors and a mosque that had been turned into a makeshift hospital.
I started taking pictures as soon as I arrived, being the only white guy I got a few strange looks, and some pretty angry faces. A few threatening protestors told me I couldn't take pictures and to leave immediately. A group of 15 or so protestors started to gather around me and a bunch of angry Arabic flew back and forth. So ya... maybe not the best idea?
Finally someone started speaking English to me! After explaining to the crowd I was there to record and tell they're story, they welcomed me into their family. They brought me a translator, water, anything I needed.
Throughout the day I interviewed several protestors. From what I could gather the protestors are actually a mix of Morsi supporters and opposers. Those who don't support Morsi are protesting against the military who "take our vote and throws it in the trash". While Morsi wasn't who THEY voted for, it was atleast who the Egyptian people voted for.
During the interviews, some told me that protestors had been burned inside of their tents in the camp raids earlier today. They said that Molotov cocktails were thrown into the makeshift hospitals, and estimates for the days fatalities ranged from 300-2000. Again, these are thins I was told, I didn't witness them.
Throughout the entire day I didn't see a single weapon amongst the protestors. Everyone had rocks, kids were prying files off building, women were smashing large pieces of concrete into smaller sizes. Everyone I met begged me to tell the world they were unarmed ciilians being fired on bu their military. However, I was warned by one person to "not take pictures of protestors with weapons". The group I was with immediately told me he was wrong, because the protestors aren't armed. So while I didn't see a single armed protestor or firing from the crowd, take it for what you will.
What I did witness, were the deaths of several people, and the damage done by the weapons of the military. Bullets cant tell age. I saw a kid, about 15 years old, missing half of his head. I'm no arms expert, but the protestors said he was shot by a sniper.
They explained that snipers were perched in the high rise and would target photographers/journalists (one was killed today). At one point five or so protestors created a human shield, to get me close enough to attempt a picture of the snipers firing on the crowd. Unfortunately my camera and lens are pretty amateur and the best I could get was an outline of a person on top of a building.
Towards the end of the day, the protestors were being pushed farther back towards the mosque. Tear gas was occasionally reaching the mosque. I didn't have my passport or any papers, incase I was arrested, plus the camera would have definitly been destroyed. I decided to leave. On my way back I switched out SD cards and when I arrived at the metro station I photographed some of the military tanks. They grabbed me and took the camera. I told them I was just a tourist but they forced me to delete The photos anyways.
I tried to make it as unbiased as an account as I could. While I didn't know what I was going to do with these pictures, I did meet some amazing people today, risking their lives and dying for what they believe in. All they asked was for me to share their story.