During the Egyptian uprising, a fundamental transformation of society took place. Egyptians began to completely rethink their role in society and the way their society was structured. At the Left Forum on March 20, Nation contributor Anand Gopal spoke about what he saw when he was in Tahrir Square during the uprising.

Gopal tells the story of Egyptians adding new “elements of order” to Tahrir Square each day during the protests. They took over establishments to meet their own needs, turning Pizza Hut into an organizing center. KFC became a clinic, one with medical attention of such quality that people were coming to get care there because it was better than what they would get at other clinics. 

It was “a complete subversion of the order” with people setting up communal kitchens and engineering students donating their time to construct bathrooms. They even set up their own security checkpoints to screen passports, visas and IDs. Gopal experienced one of these checkpoints: “For anybody who has been to the Middle East, with all the repressive security regimes, it was the most pleasant pat-down I’ve ever had.”

—Kevin Gosztola