As a tear gas canister starts to land in the middle of protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud street, thousands of people turn and start running towards #tahrir. Mohamed Mahmoud feels smaller than it's ever been and the building on its sides seem larger, taller, enclosing us, trapping us and the gases between them. Within seconds, protesters start running back towards #Tahrir, trying to outrun the a thick white cloud of smoke, stumbling, gasping for air. My eyes and face start burning, my eyes shut and I could not see, I only knew which way was out because of the bodies that swept me out of Mohamed Mahmoud. I see to my right @sumayaholdijk's head disappear under a wave of people rushing to escape the white cloud of teargas. Before I can begin to worry about @sumayaholdijk, I start gasping for air, in a moment of panic I pull off my scarf and mask and gasp for air, but instead I fill my lungs with a gas that feels like I inhaled searing hot pins. I try and inhale, but there is no air, just more pins tearing up my insides, by the third time I try to take a breath, my head starts spinning, my legs become heavy and everything becomes silent. As my knees buckle under me, someone on my right hooks his arm into my right arm and someone on my left hooks his arm into my left one. I don't feel my legs as I glide with the crowd through the smoke. I hear a muted voice screaming, "save us,الحقونا" and realize its my own. I look behind me in time to see @fazerofzanight slide under the feet of the fleeing protesters, I try and pick her, but my legs won't hold me and my screams become clearer as I shout, "Save her, save her, someone save her,الحقوها الحقوها حد يلحقها". I couldn't breathe and I knew that if I did not escape the cloud of teargas in a few seconds I would die and surely if I did then @fazerofzanight would also die. A man behind me, also with swollen eyes, carried @fazerofzanight towards the Field Hospital in Mohamed Mahmoud, instantaneously other protesters starting clearing a way for her to get through as we went through people on the sides started spraying our faces with a mixture of yeast, bicarbonate, saline and other things and I could finally breathe. We made it to the field hospital and after a very close call we were all, though extremely shaken, miraculously okay.
Many people don't understand why so many were injured and others had fallen dead in what they consider the pointless clashes of the battle for Mohamed Mahmoud. If we recall the events of June 28th, tear gas canisters were landing in the middle of Tahrir square, these canisters were being launched from Mohamed Mahmoud. Mohamed Mahmoud is the closest point with the clearest trajectory to Tahrir Square. If #CSF forces were to take it over than there is no doubt that within minutes #Tahrir would be covered in a formidable cloud of teargas.
The battle of Mohamed Mahmoud is an organic show of sacrifice like no other I have seen or experienced before in my life. It is a living breathing barricade of people who are willing to risk snipers, asphyxiation, burning eyes and seizures to stop the disbanding of the #Tahrir sit-in. People on the front-lines escape the teargas to be quickly replaced by others, while hundreds wait for the fallen to carry them to the over-crowded under equipped nearby field hospitals, while they spray whatever they can into the air to dissipate the effects of the pernicious gas that has already taken the lives of many of us. People are determined to maintain the #tahrir sit-in at every and all costs. That is the story of the battle of the living breathing barricades of Mohamed Mahmoud, you have not experienced camaraderie till you've experienced Mohamed Mahmoud.