On the roundabout, a little village very quickly began to take on a life of its own. People distributed food and beverages and picked up garbage. Personally, I helped with the latter. Some of my friends went back and forth to the malls nearby to buy rolls of plastic bags for garbage collection and fruits to distribute to people.
Ibrahim Sharif of the secular and left-leaning Waad was there too. I met and talked to him for the first time. I asked him if he thinks that calls for an elected a Prime Minister to replace of the incumbent Khalifa bin Salman are realistic. He said if there was ever a time to realize such demands, now is it. I then asked him about the mysterious absence of the police, which were present at first but then disappeared; he said that they can’t even fire a teargas canister at us at this point because doing that alone would lead to a stampede and therefore many deaths. This probably won’t happen because of all the international attention we’re getting, he said.
As the sun was setting, the protesters began setting up a speakers and a stage. Major opposition figures gave speeches. But what was interesting is that the stage was entirely open to us, the youth, to speak our minds. And some did. Through them, two important announcements were made: 1) there has been a third death — don’t know its details yet — and 2) one of our fellow protesters has volunteered to buy us all dinner. All around us, tents have been set up. It was clear that the roundabout will remain occupied until further notice.
Ibrahim Sharif was giving a speech as my friends and I were leaving. He addressed the logistical problems of our new little village: we need a youth committee to clean up the place, another to provide food, another to provide shelter to those willing to stay overnight, etc. I’m back home now, but my friends tell me they have set up a projector and a screen to follow the international media and a canteen to distribute food. The level of civility and self-organization I have witnessed today is profoundly impressive. After it became evident that the police weren’t about to attack such an increasingly big number of protesters under the noses of the international media — they were nowhere to be seen, as a matter of fact — my fear of being gassed, beaten or both had subsided. In its stead, I experienced a feeling of liberty and a real sense of community, both of which I’ve never known before.