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EGYPT: Protesters' sarcasm reflected in anti-Mubarak signs

February 8, 2011 |  1:18 pm

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For years, millions of Egyptians have relied on their sense of humor and self-mockery as a way of surviving tough living conditions. Such sarcasm can be seen at its best in Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands are calling for the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling regime.

A rumor that has spread through Egyptian state television is that protesters in Tahrir are being paid by a "foreign element" to camp in the square and cause unrest. Others found a funny side to Mubarak's persistence in holding on to power: A protester with big afro held a sign saying, "Mubarak, leave so I can go home and cut my hair."

The word "leave" was the most common in the signs raised in the square. Some activists wrote it in three languages. One protester wrote in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt to express his frustration: "Since you [Mubarak] are a Pharaoh, we're writing you in the hieroglyphic language you might understand."

Another protester wrote a sign asking Mubarak to "understand our message and leave. Or maybe just leave then understand as you want."

A protester, for whom there probably is no love lost with his wife's family, had a sign saying "Down with Mubarak, down with my mother-in-law."

"I have a beard, and I'm not a Muslim Brotherhood member," read another sign carried by a demonstrator, who was referring to state TV's claims that the "banned" Muslim Brotherhood group has taken over the square and is trying to influence young people there to join its ranks.

Thousands of those camping in Tahrir sleep in homemade tents. Despite the humble conditions, many find pride in their shelters. "Victory palace" read one sign on the top of one small tent.

One protester had a sign saying, "I'm sleeping and dreaming inside my tent, please wake me up when he [Mubarak] leaves, so that my dream will be fulfilled."

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: An Egyptian protester carrying a sign urging President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Credit: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters.

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