Monday, January 31, 2011

Gun Shots and Coffee

Another night spent out in the streets as one man clings to power even if it means harming several million. The world watches, silently, waiting for they tyrant to bring those people to their knees so that their lives don’t risk being disrupted.

The night was pleasant, even though reports of gun fire and danger were delivered consistently throughout the night. The early hours of the evening seemed like the middle of the night, a scene very uncharacteristic of Cairo where heavy traffic doesn’t stop till an hour or two past midnight. The atmosphere is very communal, young men and old around camp fires, others playing football in the blocked off street. The streets are ours minus the menacing cars that were always stuck in traffic. It was like going to a cafe to meet people without the service.

In the distance, gun shots could be heard and rumors of ongoing battles and such. Still, the people armed with sticks and stones prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.

People stuck together and worked together. Some went to protest, others guarded the neighborhood. There’s no one on our side but ourselves. The whole regime is against us without sympathy for the rights we ask for. The police are certainly the most venomous, but there are others. The army so far has not harmed the people, which is something people may have expected anyway from a treacherous ruler. The people look thankfully upon the army for doing its job, something which all other government bodies have failed to do for years and years. But the army still follows the order of one man who puts his interests above all others. I’ve wondered how so much control can be exerted over honorable men without question.

The internet is still amiss, and it will not be up again till the revolution is quelled. The US continues its hypocrisy with very weak responses to a villainous regime. The people, like prisoners out of control, are being herded in, intimidated and conspired against.

I always thought this revolution was about loyalties. The turning of loyalty is key to victory. Some people will choose to betray their brethren to serve a dictator, others will betray the dictator to serve their brethren. Some people will betray their values, others may find them.

That’s the funny thing about people, they’re unpredictable, some of them anyway. Who knows what a man wants, and why he wants it, but those who find themselves wanting a better future for their children will give people what’s rightfully theirs.

30 Jan 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Police: A Manner of Treason

A group of people hopeless due to an oppressive government that decided their services were not required stumbled upon something quite extraordinary: hope.

The vibrant youth that walked in the first protests on January 25th were not thinking of all the hardships that such a positive move brings. They only thought hope was afloat and so they must act. They acted responsibly, peacefully, exercising much restraint despite the mountain of repression within. The consequences were the whole nation’s to bear.

Following the violent attacks from the police on January 28, matters escalated and between the hours of 5 and 6 pm, as army units arrived to the scene cheered on by protesters, the police disappeared. All the police from all of the governments in every post were gone and were not to be heard of for the remainder of the night. In the heat of the moment, protesters celebrated the victory over their archrival, but something else happened that night. Organized mobs looted and burned shops, attacked police stations, freed prisoners, took weaponry, terrorized neighborhoods and attacked houses. Naively we believed that to be a price to pay for the successful uprising as all revolutions or uprisings had their share.

The army declared a curfew, and we did not understand why at the time. The following day, the same militia seemed relentless, looting and terrorizing. The act of thousands changed the lives of millions. The same young men with many more took upon themselves the responsibility of seeing this through.

As media covered the catastrophe of how Egypt, one of the safest countries in the world was turned into a den of thieves, people called upon the army to help in a panicked frenzy. They, in turn, called upon their youth who were never needed before to protect their neighborhoods. The young men took to the streets and set up local checkpoints with roadblocks to keep the streets safe. They were armed in sticks, stones or knives, anything they can get their hands on while the perpetrators possibly had guns. Bravely they stood their ground in the face of a danger they did not set out to bring upon themselves that very first Tuesday they marched out.

Interestingly, those left in such a vulnerable position commended the youth of January 25 and never complained as to the state they were in. The people had accepted these brave hopeful young people of as representatives to their cause. More than that, they were proud of them despite their fear.

The young men took it upon themselves to bring down the perpetrators. Thugs were caught and much to everyone’s surprise some were found to be from the police force.

It came as shocking news to some that the police had betrayed Egypt in such a manner, but to most of the young people who went out to protest it came as no surprise. The police had always betrayed Egypt’s trust as of late, so what if the manner of treason was so blatant this time around? It was one of the reasons that triggered all these protests.

The government media denied all allegations against the police and vindicated them, but now, accusations were out in the open. The police betrayed everyone including those defending them. Every news anchor and every news writer that attacked the protesters and defended the police was in jeopardy and now it was those protesters falsely accused that were protecting them.

As the police continue in their treason, people continue to defend their homes. Even valiant officers who were given indefinite leave from the force join the ranks of people and help defend the neighborhoods as citizens. The police failed the people but more than that it failed policemen.

I left tonight to try and keep my streets safe not knowing what would happen if we met with armed gunmen. I met many from my neighborhood whom I had never seen before. We talked and found ourselves united in our grievances. Having been guilty of being amongst those who partook in the protests I asked those who had not participated if it was worth it. Despite the bitter cold and the lack of sleep, there were no complaints. Everyone knew that we had to set out to change the way things are and that we had to win back our dignity somehow.

I write this now as the usual thugs employed in every protest, in every electoral rig, in every bullying feat storm the streets of Egypt. They set out to unleash chaos in every governorate in a methodological manner. Fear is in the air as bullets are heard across the capital and other cities, but so is hope and pride as young people protect the streets. A sense of calm is present as the army commits to protecting its citizens against those cancerous cells.

They don’t have a chance, because we know what we’re fighting for.

We’re winning but we’ve got lots more to go. We’re winning because for the first time, we’re all proud of one another, for being given the opportunity to live up to a responsibility. These are difficult times, but they are also very moving. The same people who did not care to make a stand earlier deeming things hopeless are now making a stand. The same people who had nothing but fears, broke those barrier and face more dangers. We’re winning because youth who were given no choice but oppression are trying to break free, paying a heavy price set by their oppressors and trying to buy themselves back.

Jan 29 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why I Protest

I write this now mostly to those who are not in Egypt, mainly because internet has been blocked amidst an intentional media blackout orchestrated by the Egyptian government, conspiring against its own people.

The complete and utter brutality of the Egyptian regime has never been exemplified as much as it has during the protests that started on 25 January of 2011. As I went out to protest, people around me were from all classes and all ages, yet contrary to what was reputed about the Egyptian characters, they were very responsible, peaceful and disciplined. Egyptians knew the rules of a protest well, to keep it peaceful and not to use foul language. For every one person who even thought of breaking these rules, there were 10 to point him back to the way chosen for this protest.

Unprovoked, the police would use tear gas, beat up protesters, and hire thugs with bats, knives and swords to intimidate and beat up citizens. All this is captured on video and yet the US refuses to act and continues to provide Egypt with weapons. Police fire live ammunitions on protesters and America remains silent. America supplies weapons to criminals who break the law put by their own country and the worst part is that they’re the ones trying to uphold it. Contrary to US popular belief, Egyptians are fond of Americans, but when the US does not practice what it preaches about democracy, freedom and human rights, people become wary of their treason to their own values. It’s not true that only Mubarak will serve America’s interests, unless America will only rely on dictators to serve its own end.

I may seem to have been sidetracked, but it only seems that way. It’s not the US, but the values that Americans and westerners can relate to that I’m really trying to express. Since I send this out to places with less oppressive regimes, I want to tell you that the reason I went out to protest are the values that west preaches.

I come from an upper middle class family, with an upper middle class job. I have a car, I have a phone, I have money and I’ve been around the world. I’m not financially impoverished and yet I protest. I protest because in Egypt we lack dignity and a sense of humanity. I protest because I cannot take part in any elections and they’re all rigged. I have no voice, I have no vote. I protest because poverty around me impoverishes me even though I possess money. I protest because everyone around me is unhappy and we’re capable of so much more, so much more.

I protest because it’s not enough to have money, one needs a sense of respect as a human being and we don’t have that. I protest because those who are poor do not even have the little respect I’m given. There are too many injustices and the regime sits idle, at most commending the bad and punishing the good. I don’t know how one can stand for that, and yet America does. I don’t know how one can be silent for 30 years and yet Egyptians have.

The world is silent, watching, waiting as a media blackout takes control of Egyptians. Governments like vultures watch and wait for an outcome, condemning weakly by voice, and not at all through action. It seems that money means more for governments than human lives. I know that this is not the sentiments of people it represents. I know that people in the US like Egyptians value freedom, dignity and equality more than they value selfish gains by unlawful dictators.

This is the situation in Egypt, if it wasn’t already clear to outsiders. Egyptians of course know all this. They are aware of the tyranny and oppression we’ve been faced with for 30 years. They know what it’s like to fight so hard for the simplest right and not get it. In one day, a decision to cut us off from the world was taken, and the aim was to slaughter us in the absence of media reporting and as I speak now, wounded people are unable to communicate with hospitals, families and friends in order to receive medical care. The country is up in flames and still the government imposes the media blackout.

It took Mubarak four days of the most intense protests in the history of modern Egypt to even begin to listen to what was being said. Even then he did not understand any of the concerns of the people and accused them of violence rather than his police and thugs. Who could accept a ruler like that?

If it takes so much effort to get nothing, what use is it belonging to a government like this? The government must change, cheating must change and the criminals that govern us must change. Is it too much to ask?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Facebook and Twitter Blocked in Egypt

To anyone who stumbles upon this, please share with Egyptians.

To open the blocked content e.g. facebook and twitter from you browser, download one of the following and run it in the background
1- UltraSurf - or
2- Hotspot Shield -
3- MediaFire -

For any questions send me an email directly.

For quick access to facebook:

Egypt is becoming a lunatic state, shutting down voice and data services from its citizens in order to shut them up.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Article 54

Article 54 of the Egyptian Constitution

Art.54: Citizens shall have the right to peaceful and unarmed private assembly, without the need for prior notice. Such private meetings should not be attended by security men. Public meetings, processions and gatherings shall be allowed within the limits of the law.

The funny thing is that I found this on the Egyptian government's website.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Egyptian Protest Manifesto

The complete control over every aspect of the protest seems to be the main reason why protests have not managed develop much in Egypt. Protests as they stand are like choreography where both the protesters and the police do a little dance; each slightly improvising but certain of the moves. This goes well for the police but not too well for the protesters. I think the police are more aware of this. Police control everything but the chants, but even in that regard they are still partially in control. This subservience that the protesters experience is the most defeating part of the protest. Even onlookers are controlled by fear and abuse as they listen to chants and watch police violence.

The battle ground is set for the police, they know where it is and more than that they know exactly how to handle every aspect of the territory. The protests happen in centralized places near to the repository of goons and men in black. While protesters take their time to rally and regroup, the police are already deployed and ready for any move.

Protests in Cairo are far too conventional for the stronghold Egyptian police have on people and places. There must be new and creative ways of protesting. Like everything else, Egyptians have a way of immitating things without fully comprehending them. One of the aims of a protest is to give a police a hard time shutting you up, at least in countries where it's the police's job to do so. In a police state such as Egypt the question isn't whether or not they will shut you up, but how long it would take and how difficult it would be to do so. It shouldn't be as easy as it is today.

In order to make it worth the effort, protests should move to locations where it's much more taxing for the police to deploy an arsenal of goons and privates. Certainly it won't be difficult but it will be expensive and will give them some homework to do. It will at least distract some of them from other illegal activities. If things are organized correctly, many protests in decentralized locations should take place simultaneously. This will make the task difficult for the police to apply security measures adequately to all places and it will exhaust them. Protesters will be exhausted too, but they should be more mobile. If the police have too much trouble trying to control the protests (they shouldn't even attempt to terrorize and control) they might find it cost effective to avoid them by doing things right.

The point is that, like any other market system, if you change the cost, something will have to change. It may be argued that t this point protests will get more violent and it will be ahrder to keep track of people arrested and kidnapped. This is true but the decentralized nature of the protest might bring in more people to the protests from various neighborhoods. The added advantage to doing protests in various neighborhoods is that other people are exposed to the slogans that the media censors. It brings the protest to them rather than keep it something remote. Far more people must talk to people on the street and explain what we're protesting. If no police are around, it should be less threatening. The chants will be heard by people who need to protest rather than fall on the deaf ears of central security and contracted thugs.

That's why the slogans and chants need to change. They need to be less violent and less antagonistic. They should be focused and give a feeling of rational anger. They should be a voice of peace until more people know what's going on.

Violent chants antagonize the police, some of whom may be reluctant to inflict pain but are forced to do so. Their feeling of helplesness is fueled by the insults and turns the matters into something personal. Antagonizing chants can be a good thing but not when the numbers in the protest are small.

Police, much like the rest of the people are motivated by fear. It's fear of punishment, fear of failure and fear of everything but God. The duality of the nature of the police as both opressed people and the opressor might be vital in changing their attitude.

It is actually more important than all of the above to avoid direct confrontation until absolutely necessary. Hanging flags from windows is an example. It will be difficult for police to control every building of every neighborhood. Dressing in common colors or tying a ribon of some sort can be effective as well. What is the use of all the social networking and blogging if we can't spread a practical idea rather than a virtual group? There are things that will make it difficult for police to control and that should be the focus. More ideas are bound to be born if the approach is agreed upon. That is why protests and smart ones at that should be an additional resource rather than the main method of protesting.

Protests are fueled by fear on all sides. People are afraid to demonstrate because of police violence and humiliation and protestors are afraid of being kidnapped, beaten and arrested indefinitely. The police are afraid not to follow orders and the hidden hands of the oppressors truly fear a real uprising from the people. The chain of fear must be broken and it must be broken through the weakest link.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Justified Anger

It has always perplexed me that Egypt was the second largest economy in the whole of Africa. The truly baffling aspect is that almost all other countries in Africa are actually worse off than we are. This has caused quite a conflict within me because I wonder why people keep complaining. There are others worse off than we are. I keep wondering how far we are from Tunisia’s explosion, and while I feel we’re very close, I also feel that we are so much better off than what they were living.

So why then do I feel we’re on the brink of explosion? I’m one of the better off people in Egypt with a few sources of income and a chance to make enough money so that I don’t have to suffer what the majority has to suffer yet I feel that same impatience and oppression felt by all. Are we just complainers or is it something else?

But recently I’ve been able to resolve why we are not content even though we’re better than those around us. I’ve been able to understand why I personally think we’re on the cusp of a revolution. It’s not just because we deserve better, but because we can have better. We live in a country that is better off than others around even though it has taken measures more severe in oppressing its own people. We are better off because the country has so much more to squander. The country has so much more to rob. The country has so many to take from.

If we were poor and times were rough, we would not be in a state of anger and irritation that we’re in now. We would suffer with patience if we felt that our leaders were doing the best they could, but they’re not. So what it boils down to is not that the country is in a horrible state, it is in a better state than many, but it’s about our leaders letting us down again and again. Those in the power to serve justice have served us injustice. That is why we’re angry.

I have no guilt about my anger, because it doesn’t take a genius to keep us afloat. There’s a difference between cutting down a thin tree and chiseling away at a thick strong tree. The strong tree takes more time to fall, but sooner or later it will fall. We are chiseled at with more force than many of the countries surrounding us.

So if the criterion of how good a job those in charge of the country have done is anything to base anger on, then it should have been Egypt that led a revolution, not Tunisia. They can throw numbers at us about growth and about accomplishments, and they might not even be lies, but we should never feel guilty about how much wrath we have, because it is founded on something real. Accusations of our own dereliction and of character traits like being whiney or lazy should not deter us from our justified anger.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Love that Died

People accuse me of treason when I say that I don't love Egypt anymore. The reality is that I'm just being honest. I've held on to that so called love for as long as I could, but I ended up having to decide between lying to myself and fitting in with the rest. There is too much demand that the love for my country be unconditional. It isn't an unconditional sort of love though. The one condition is that the country I love exists, and Egypt does not exist anymore. This may come as a surprise to some, but it's true. Egypt has been lost and we're not even aware of it. It may have left, but the more likely explanation is that we buried it.

The quest for the missing Egypt is undermined by the fake love given to its proxy. As the real Egypt sinks, we keep smothering the fake, evil replacement that we have with so much love. The more love we give to the fake Egypt, the more the real Egypt sinks. I said I don't love Egypt anymore, but what I mean is that I don't love the fake Egypt anymore. I love the old sinking Egypt that was full of kindness, full of beauty. I don't like this new one that's full of ignorance, poverty, injustice, hate, extremism and disrespect. I don't like this Egypt that turns a blind eye to hatred. I don't like this new Egypt that turns a blind eye to the sexual harassment of its women. I don't like this new Egypt that breeds hatred amongst its citizens.

I do not fool myself by giving love to this evil replica. Surely this is not my country; it's not a country that I want to be associated with. It's a country of thugs, thieves and murderers. To bestow upon it my love is to accept being a part of them, and I'm not. I'm not a liar and I'm not a hypocrite. I accuse all those who demand a sick love from me of being traitors, complicit in the evil doings of an enslaving country. To love Egypt you must first be honest and hate it. This is a country that we shape, not a person that we have to accept.

I do not love the misery that comes with the country, nor the shape of what it has become. We are not invaded by a foreign power so that I can claim to hate what has been done to the country. I hate the country because its cells have become cancerous. The bad cells are spreading and there is no fixing them. I will fight off this cancer, and because I do, I'm accused of treason. It is the country that has betrayed itself, and those asking me to love it are asking for its destruction.

Having said all that, I burrow through the rubbles for the Egypt that once was. Once in a while I see a glimpse of the real thing, but it is quickly overshadowed by something unreal, something contrived, something forced.

I fear that the time for salvation has long passed us by. While we busy ourselves pretending that Egypt still exists, and fighting for a fake love, the real Egypt sinks, and to make matters worse, we're pushing it deeper into oblivion with our dishonest zeal.