Sunday, February 27, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
In Tahrir, there was hope, and there was a common goal and a common pain. Tahrir did not just teach the world a political lesson, it taught the people there much more than they knew before coming into the square, Liberation square, where people went to find their freedom, but found it in one another. Tahrir transformed the people there. Many have spoken about the community there, the collaboration and the kindness strangers have shown one another. It was a journey that we all shared, and we found there the best in each other and in ourselves.
I learned the meaning of the words ‘Tahya Masr’ which some people translate as ‘long live Egypt’. The literal translation though is ‘Egypt lives’. I learned what it was for the dead to rise; for Egypt to live after years of being buried underneath a rubble of hatred, extremism and poverty.
Tears fill my heart as I think about everyone leaving and going back to their daily business. Will they remember the strangers who became their brothers? Will they remember what it feels like to serve one another with joy?
Will people ever take this hard earned chance of freedom for granted? Even now, I remember the faces of those who died in this battle. I do not want them to be forgotten. They were ordinary people trying to fight for their own dreams, taking on a beastly Goliath. They ended up fighting for our hopes and our dreams. They ended up running into the eye of the storm in the hopes of stopping the destruction it was wreaking.
I wish those who reap the fruits of this struggle will always remember how brave it was for those people to start caring. They could have selfishly lived on in the comfort of their lives, but they selflessly walked out of their homes to face a danger that Egyptians have feared for 30 years. I wish that people could know and remember how much courage that took.
I heard that Egyptians were once a great people, that they were once full of love for one another, full of ideas and adventure. I did not see those people much as I traversed the streets of Egypt. I saw only glimpses, like shooting stars, and they were not enough for me to have faith in my people. I wondered to myself where did the real Egyptians go? I searched the broken down streets of Cairo, and I was surrounded by darkness. I searched the other cities and they were crowded and poor. I searched for Egyptians that could live up to their history, I searched for Egyptians that could be countrymen. For the longest time I could not find them, but I finally found them in Tahrir.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
One of the most phenomenal aspects of the revolution in Egypt is how young people went out in masses despite their usual passiveness and the pervasive culture of fear security bodies have built.
(Down with the regime)
30 years of oppression provide ample reason to go out and protest whether for price increases, poor wages, taxes, pensions or the corruption within the entire People’s Assembly. Many of the protests before January 25 were related to professional grievances. There were protests for doctors’ wages, railway workers, government employees and factory workers. All of these in my opinion were just catalysts.
The real reason people went out and protested on January 25, 2011 was because of Khaled Said. In June 2010, Khaled Said, a young man of age 27, was murdered in Alexandria at the hands of two police goons in plain sight. He died for seemingly no reason but refusing to show his identification to the plain clothed policemen who did not want to present him with their ID. They violently dragged him out of a cyber café, took him inside a building next door and beat him till he died. When charges were brought against the police, the forensic report was falsified and the Ministry of Interior started a smear campaign against the young man full of lies in order to cover up for the policemen.
This incident of brutality infuriated most of the young people of Khaled’s age and class. It had been a long standing unspoken rule that people from good families were never mistreated by the police. This incident, the blatant smear campaign and the protection of the murderers struck a chord with young middle-class Egyptians. In retaliation, they staged demonstrations that took place opposite the Ministry of Interior protesting the injustice that had befallen Khaled. This was one of the few mass protests where ordinary citizens other than activists, journalists and certain professionals decided to partake including the disgruntled youth.
The Ministry of Interior confronted the protests against police violence with police violence. Brutality terrorized protesters and many were arrested through the use of violent thugs.
The young men and women, desperately trying to get their message across devised alternate forms of protests that wouldn’t anger authorities. They decided to protest in creative ways, such as asking people in Cairo and Alexandria to wear black, stand on the bank of the Nile or the Mediterranean, backs to the street reading whatever holy book they believe in. The authorities were still angered at this form of silent protest and cracked down on the protesters in various ways. It felt that authorities were not angered by the manner of protest, but by the concept of citizens expressing themselves collectively in any way.
The feeling of oppression was driven to new limits with a clear message from security bodies: anyone can be picked on; anyone can be beaten to death. Not only do you have to accept it, but you have no right to object.
The feeling of injustice lingered on with those young men and women. It was an implosive force waiting for a chance to explode. Khaled Said was a true symbol of someone young, talented and vibrant, whose life was stolen unlawfully by those who were supposed to uphold the law. The slogan, which authorities may have taken lightly was, “We are all Khaled Said.”
Till today the authorities are wary of some sort of conspiracy theory unaware of how true the slogan was. The young men and women felt as though they were Khaled Said, it wasn’t a shallow slogan like those the government invents. They felt his mother’s pain and they felt his injustice as he asked he pleaded with his murders to stop their brutality.
Despite all efforts, Khaled Said was not forgotten. He was the epitome of everything that was wrong with this country. Everything was building up in the background: poverty, ignorance, corruption, dictatorship and misrepresentation, but Khaled Said hit very close to home.
When the Saints’ Church in Alexandria was bombed right after the biggest falsification of the People’s Assembly, people were further charged. When Tunisia proved that dictators can go and that injustice can be fought, the implosive energy exploded.
Joined by others with various grievances, those young men and women took to the streets starting January 25 charged with a load of injustice. The young men and women fighting for their freedoms went out fighting for one another. They went out fighting so that there wouldn’t be another Khaled Said.
They did not want police brutality to continue unquestioned; they did not want to live in a sea of injustice. They wanted the perpetrators held accountable. They wanted to be safe and they wanted their friends safe. They wanted a future where parents would not wonder if their child has been beaten to death by the so-called upholders of the law. They wanted a chance to express their anger, and tell the world not to believe the lies of the police and the regime. They wanted life; they wanted justice.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Thursday, February 03, 2011
I’m asked often how I feel about what’s going on in my country. I’m asked for news while I follow the news on Al Jazeera, twitter, friends from the scene or what have you. I haven’t found the right words to describe how I feel today, perhaps because it is a mixture of emotion and grief. It’s sad to belong to a group of people betrayed by everyone around them. An army chooses to stand idle as civilians it is sworn to protect are killed by a police that were sworn to protect. The words cannot express my rage at this injustice that we face, betrayed everywhere from all sides, except the people of other nations. Together we stand in solitude against the oppression of our governments and their quest for power.
What can I say, when words have no place. I am shocked at the amount of evil we’re faced with. At dark times like these how can one believe that the power of goodness can overcome these dark forces. The people protesting are not angels, they are human beings who might have taken bribes, or broken the law. But they are showing goodness beyond the capacity of human beings. Those people brought up in the most dire conditions, where you take what you need by force have embraced an idea based on faith not logic, that these protests will be peaceful. They did not take up arms, or weapons or make Molotov cocktails to prepare for their protests. They went unarmed in open space against the oppressive of governments with the sole faith that goodness shall prevail, that they must adhere to peaceful protests and not throw the first stone.
How did these people, lacking education, lacking the experience of right prevailing, overcome their past experiences and decide to protest peacefully for a change such as this.
The Egyptian people would make any nation proud. They have stood up for their rights in the most admirable way imaginable. The atrocities of this regime are the worst and anything change will bring will be better. A wounded beast hanging on to dear life, taking down everything around, destructive and sinister. For the regime, they are slaves, to be herded, intimidated and killed.
The country is in ruins as we speak, and those who rule it are determined to destroy it before they leave. They would rather burn it all than give any of its citizens a piece of it.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Tonight is a scary night despite so many things that relay a sense of security. The scene in Tahrir completely festive, friends I’ve met, people I’ve talked to. The army is protecting people against the tyranny of the police. Tomorrow the million march begins and what scares me is that I have too many questions about what just happened this past month.
A church bombing; a policeman killing copts, police brutality. All of these took place. Surprisingly enough the army moved in and nobody was hurt. The army protected Egyptians. For a while, no one knew whose side the army was on. Then, the army made it clear that it means the people no harm. But who controls the army, isn’t it Hosny Mubarak? If he was behind police violence, why did he not order the army to shoot at protesters? Did he give the order and did the army refuse?
So many questions and mixed messages that cannot be interpreted easily. Passion is blind and does not ask for explanations and that’s why I suppress my passion and search for answers. If Mubarak controlled the police, why did he order them out of every inch of the country at the same time? But at the same time, why did the army take steps to fill that void?
Is Mubarak sinister? I don’t have the answer to that question, because I’m not looking for my answer through passion. Is Mubarak capable of such grand treason to the people of Egypt? Why then has he kept Egypt out of wars and bloodshed. He may sell parts of the country, he may make friends with our enemies, but is he a man who has no regard for human life? He may not care for people’s financial well being, but is he mad enough to tear down everything he has built?
I’ve liked Mubarak on a personal level. He can be funny sometimes and is largely considered a war hero. Whenever anyone he knows gets sick, he calls, for he knows that health is such an important thing. In my opinion he does so out of a sense of respect for that matter. He is a tyrant however and cannot be trusted. I loathe the way he runs the country, and I believe that whether it is intentional or out of ignorance, the result is that he must leave sooner or later. Unlike the rest of the revolution, I opt for later.
The truth is that Arabs have seldom had an ex –president, and that would be nice to have. He hasn’t massacred people like a Stalin, he hasn’t sent our troops to die for another person’s war like Nasser. In fact, he hasn’t done anything but take away our dignity. He should stay in Egypt and be tried for the dereliction of his duties.
I’ve said this before but no one really listened, we’ve already won, but we just don’t realize it. We have made our voices heard, worn down the seemingly invincible police, brought in the army and for the first time applied enough pressure for immediate change.
A voice of reason asks me not to make this overthrow an illegitimate one. I want to wait so as to do it right. I fear for the plans of these power hungry men to subdue us again, but I feel it is our duty to do things right and not be like them. We can’t be unlawful just because they are. We’re becoming the new tyrants. Each of us, from the oppression and injustice we faced exploded into self righteousness and from there on tyranny.
The messages are mixed. Omar Suliman, the vice president has promised to talk things out with opposition, and at the same time he promised to uphold the rule of law. That sounds promising but is it true? Many things make me doubt the regime’s intentions. Why has the internet been blocked? Will the phones be blocked? Why?
All I know is that we have power, and we need to negotiate our terms with someone. It took them so long to do this, and while the decision may be delayed due to unforeseen reasons, it seems that they don’t want to give us what we want.
Today is a night to be remembered. Are we being played by various forces? Why did burglars try to break into Maspero (the television building), why were there documents that asked protesters to occupy Maspero. There is a grand conspiracy out there somewhere, and it may be that the young people were being played. I feel there are so many unanswered questions and my theories which I did not share may all be false. At times like these, despite my innumerable thoughts and hypotheses, I will do nothing but pray. For with such unknown odds, one must ask the powers that be to allow the best to happen. I pray for no bloodshed, too much has been spilt already. I pray for no chaos, too much has taken place already. I pray for justice, too much injustice has been served to us already.
A mob has no brain, I pray they stumble upon one tomorrow.
31 Jan 2011