A 19th century square spells Egypt’s new liberation

February 2nd, 2011 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Feb 2 (IANS) It was a Mubarak who designed a new town square in the millenia-old Cairo which has turned into the fountain head of Egypt’s unrest that is now sweeping another Mubarak out of power. Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands of protesters have gathered to demand President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, owes its design to Ali Pasha Mubarak - Egypt’s public works minister in the 1860s.

Tahrir in Arabic means ‘liberation’.

Tahrir Square has been the traditional spot for many major protests, including the 1977 bread riots that took place after the government decided to withdraw subsidies to basic foodstuffs.

Al-Jazeera reported that the area, on which the square is located, has been historically significant to the Egyptian capital since 13th century. However, it took its current shape only in late 19th century.

The square was designed by Ali Pasha Mubarak, Egypt’s public works minister in the 1860s.

Ismail Pasha, who was then ruler of Egypt, handed over the task of modelling Cairo after Paris to Ali Pasha.

The square was originally named Maidan Ismailia after the 19th-century ruler Khedive Ismail who commissioned the new downtown district’s design.

It was renamed Maidan al-Tahrir in 1954 after the 1952 Egyptian revolution that turned Egypt from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. The 1952 upheaval was led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

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