A conversation with Ahmed, a seller of revolution t-shirts in Tahrir Square.
Bidoun: How’s business?
Ahmed: Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.
B: What were you doing during the revolution?
A: Selling t-shirts. My father has a big factory where we print these shirts. Before I used to make t-shirts exclusively for tourists. Pharaonic designs, pyramids, statues, like Sphinx. But after the revolution, I make new designs.
B: Did you protest?
B: And at night, too?
A: About twelve hours a day.
B: Do Egyptians actually buy these t-shirts?
A: 75% Egyptians, 25% tourists. But I give tourists the same price I give Egyptians. If someone wants more than one t-shirt for a good price, maybe I lose one t-shirt, but I make you happy. Because I am not working here for the money. I work here because I love that I see my country all around me. I am not Egyptian 100%. But I love Egypt. This is my country. I had a statue shop downtown and one in Sharm el Sheik, but I like being out here more. When I’m here, I understand something is happening. And, I help people. Nobody speaks English here, so I help people talk to customers. I speak many languages. Hablo espanol, parlo Italiani, parlez francais… hablo inglish. [Laughs] I help lots of people here.
B: Were you here on February 2, the day of the Camel Battle?
A: We had a big problem with the government. Mubarak was not a good man. People were given money to do it…
B: You don’t want to talk about it.
A: No, I talk. But not 100%. Just 50%. I don’t like talking about those problems. When I remember that day, I cry. If you saw, it would have made you crazy.
B: Are people happier now?
A: Yes, because before this, no one could speak. Now, we can speak more, and I can say, I want to change my life. Not just me, all Egyptians. I want everyone to have more money, to be happy, to have water, homes. Now, I see a change. I see maybe 30% or 40% or 50% change. But I want 100% change.
B: What do you think of the military?
A: I don’t know. Let’s not talk now.
B: Do you think the military’s doing a good job?
A: Maybe yes, maybe no. If I say something they don’t like, I’ll have problems. No good.
B: What do you think about the demonstrations that have been happening in Tahrir lately, in solidarity with Palestine and Syria?
A: I think people talk too much about other problems. They talk too much Palestine, Yemen, Libya. I talk about Palestine maybe 1 hour… 1 hour Yemen, 1 hour Lebanon, 1 hour Libya, but not 24 hours I talk about Palestine! I don’t need that. I talk about my country, Egypt. Not that I don’t care, but we can’t help other people if we don’t help ourselves. I see my country first.