Demonstrators in front of Cairo's Israeli Embassy found a new hero in the form of a young man named Ahmed al-Shehat, or as he will probably be known for some time to come, Flagman.
Shehat was able to climb up to the roof of the 22-story Dokki neighborhood building that houses the Israeli embassy on its 17th and 18th floors. He made his way from house to house while a large crowd below cheered him on.
“They wanted me to take down the Israeli flag, so I did,” said Shehat. The young Sharqiya Governorate native said in a live interview with Al-Jazeera that he was able bypass the heavy security surrounding the building by waiting for the moment they switch shifts.
“I just walked in when the guards were handing over their duty and no one stopped me… On the way up, an officer gave me a nod that I could continue, despite military police at first trying to keep me grounded,” he said. Shehat believes that once the crowds continued to cheer him on, military guards decided to stop trying to convince him to get down.
Upon completing a grueling trip from balcony to balcony, and even from building to building, for more than 20 floors, Shehat burned the Israeli flag and replaced it with an Egyptian one.
“I went up for our brothers who were killed,” he said. Shehata was originally protesting with the crowds calling for the expulsion of the Israeli envoy in light of the latest Sinai clashes, in which Egypt’s borders were breached and five Egyptians killed.
He then climbed down just as he’d climbed up.
Protesters were in a state of jubilant celebration in the hours following Shehata’s exploit, which helped raise morale and piqued on-lookers’ curiosity. They surrounded him until he was in need of medical attention for exhaustion.
Twitter folk dubbed Shehata “Flagman” (instead of Spiderman). It was the top trending topic at around 3am on Sunday.