Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, the bustling epicenter of support for deposed president Mohamed Morsi, the first freely-elected president in the country's history, has become a world unto itself; one in which the followers of the former president live, sleep, pray, eat and protest without the slightest need for the outside world.
Having come from almost every corner of the country to protest Morsi's ouster by the military early this month, they have brought whatever they need for their open-ended sit-in, now in its fourth week.
They have created their own security system, weather improvement system, political education system, dietary system and even media system.
Newcomers to the protest site must undergo security checks by some of the protesters.
Clad in distinct orange jackets, the self-styled security men and women do not let anybody in without first checking their IDs and ensuring that they are not carrying arms or any other harmful materials.
Some security men carry sticks in anticipation of possible attacks.
Once inside, the place looks like a beehive, where everybody has a job to do.
In one corner of the square, huge amounts of vegetables and fruits are stored in order to cook and provide free meals to demonstrators.
Women peel and clean vegetables and fruits, while men carry them to the chefs to cook.
Some people bring supplies from outside, while others are responsible for maintaining them.
When the call to evening prayer is heard, protesters stand in line for their share of the food with which to break their Ramadan fast.
Meals often contain rice or macaroni, vegetables and beef.
Taher Abdel-Mohsen, a member of the now-dissolved Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament), says that everybody contributes money for food and drink.
"Donations vary according to people's abilities," he told Anadolu Agency.
"Some of the protesters are wealthy," he added. "This means they donate a lot of money to keep this protest going."
A few meters away, a stage has been set up in the middle of the square from which Muslim Brotherhood leaders and others address the crowds.
Speakers explain to their attentive audience why their protest is legally and constitutionally justified.
"You can't just cancel the ballot boxes and bring an unelected group of people to rule this country in the place of the legitimate president," said one of the speakers.
"I'm sure we will be victorious," he added, as the crowd cheered and chanted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great").
Above protesters' heads, banners – many of them bearing Morsi's image – explain the logic of the protest in well-articulated phrases.
"A military coup has nothing to do with democracy," reads one.
Far from the loudspeakers and speeches, male and female activists distribute flyers about upcoming pro-Morsi marches and demonstrations.
One such flyer provided details about Morsi's final days in the presidential palace and the pressures the military had put on him to step down.
At midday prayers, Ali al-Salamoni pleaded with God for the detained president's release.
"Oh God, protect your slave Mohamed Morsi," he pleaded along with thousands of other worshippers, some of them in tears.
When the prayers came to an end, al-Salamoni, an accountant in his early fifties, hurried back to his tent – one of hundreds pitched in the area – to join a group of former Muslim Brotherhood legislators.
Inside the tent, they discussed current affairs and the new government's policies.
"I see a persistent attempt to bring the country back to despotism in every action taken on the street," said one member of the dissolved Shura Council.
"This new government has nothing to do with democracy," he said.
Abdel-Mohsen, the former lawmaker, left his home and children in the coastal city of Alexandria, roughly 300 kilometers north of Cairo, to be here.
Like al-Salamony, he has been camped out in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square for 25 days now.
Sacrifice is what Morsi supporters like Abdel-Mohsen appear prepared for.
He sleeps on the ground, out in the open. To get his breakfast, he must stand in a long line of fellow Morsi supporters.
He must stand in an equally long line in order to use the toilet.
"This is nothing," Abdel-Mohsen said. "I don't consider myself a hero."
"Some people have traveled hundreds of kilometers to come here," he added. "It's a matter of principle."
Abdel-Mohsen concluded, "This isn't about Morsi, but about respect for our freedom and our votes."
AALast Mod: 25 Temmuz 2013, 14:07