Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Reverence of a Mother

Layla Marzouk, Khaled Said's mother

Last Friday I had the honor of accompanying Khaled Said’s mother and sister into Kasr El Dobara Church for an early celebration of Christmas. Outside the church, I talked to them in a casual manner unsure of what to say. When we approached the gate, the organizers’ faces were smiling joyfully as they met us at the door when we were ushered in.

I was just behind Khaled Said’s mother as they made their way to their seats as a hymn was being sung. As we passed the pews full of worshipers, heads turned to look at that magnificent lady who had not stopped fighting for justice for her son. I felt much warmth coming from those seated. They were welcoming, not just with their faces but with all their being. They were accommodating, although they were not doing much to accommodate but it was as if they were putting aside their own energies to give way to hers.

I felt that warmth even though it was not directed at me, but so much love and kindness exuded around me. It then dawned on me that when Khaled Said was killed, all of Egypt needed to mobilize to attempt to bring about justice for his death. That is what it takes to bring back a lost right personified in the death of Khaled Said. For the murder of this young man was not just a crime against him and his family, but against all of Egypt. It is a crime so colossal that an entire nation had to move to respond. It is the murder of a people. It is the degradation of a nation and the impunity of a criminal state.

There is an aura of reverence around Khaled Said’s mother and I was privileged to have witnessed it. It must have come from so much resilience in the face of an unjust beast that took her son away. She survived the defamation campaign against her son and all the pressures to let his murderers go in silence. The loss of a son compounded with no remorse and no justice.

The beast lives on and people are still fighting. I looked around me and I saw so many faces, of those who were part of the church and those who were invited and sat in the first few seats. I realized that these are the people I would rather be with. Not those who tell you not to try because we can’t change anything, not those who align themselves with power, not those who have no purpose in life than to gain power over people.

I do not know if we will win or lose. In a way we’ve won a lot already and lost even more. I’m not certain if our attempts to seek justice for those fallen will ever come to fruition. But somewhere along the way I learned not to despair, because the most important thing is to align your actions with your beliefs. We were given a great opportunity in Egypt to do just that. We were given the opportunity to take out the values from the books to express them in our streets with our people.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would rather be among those people who are ready to risk their well-being for a chance to make things right.

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