A trip back home

Waking up at 5:30am yesterday to take a flight back home after a short night of being really sick and exhausted. I arrive at the airport with a terrible headache and a frown on my face. I want to smile but i cant. I am waiting for my colleagues to finish filling up the passport control form I look down and I see 2 sisters; the older sister is hugging her younger sister, making sure she doesn’t wander off. The older sister is 4 and the youngest is one and half.

I smiled and for a sec my headache was gone.  I wished to be a child again, I wished to unlearn everything I know about the world.
I am exhausted not because of work but because so many tragedies have been happening, Yara Sallam is in jail. I know others are in jail too but Yara is someone I know.
Salmah, A women resource center in Sudan, one of the centers i am working with got shut down by the Sudanese government, Salwa Bugaighis, Libyan human rights activist was murdered in Libya and more than 200 girls are still missing in Nigeria. It felt like a crack down on human rights defenders all over the region.

I learned that God is our judge, but i grew up and re-learned that societies have made themselves gods as well. They judge whoever is different. Whoever who wants justice and equality. They kill and torture under the name of God and claiming to protect us from hell. I re-learned that should fear society more than God, it was like this unwritten unsaid rule.

My friends are ready to go, I glanced at the 2 little girls and left one last time. I got on to a plane, an oval box, breathing recycled air, I feel sick again. Luckily it is not a long flight. I am home. A security officer at customs asks why I was traveling and what is my job? I hesitate then I reply “Women’s right” he looks at me laughing and mocks me. I take my passport puzzled, “did he laugh because of the word rights or women or both?”

 

It is very hard to work under such difficult circumstances but i look at my African and Asian sisters working under harsher conditions and I feel empowered. I understand now. We have to work collectively and cross culturally to achieve a change. We must continue to fight the power structures. Use every single tool that we have to make a change. Question everything you know.

 

Women of the world YOU ARE NOT WEAK AND YOU DON’T NEED A MAN TO SAVE YOU. The only way that any kind of change will happen is when we admit we are humans, equal and powerful. We walk next to each other, men and women.

 

I may not see a change in the system but I am praying and working so that those 2 little girls and every child in this world would.

 

I am a remnant of the old revolution

thawra

I am a remnant of the old revolution, the 25th of January, 2011 revolution. I still remember the chants, the smell of tear gas, the fear I felt when I saw the Central Security Forces (CSF) running after us. I still remember.

 On the 30th of June, 2013, thousands of Egyptians went to the streets angrily demanding that President Mohamed Mursi step down. Dr. Mursi did several mistakes, and he is not really a good politician. He gave long speeches that were incomprehensible (at least to me) but he was not evil, he was trying to be as honest and transparent as possible.

 I didn’t go out on the 30th of June because there was no plan and no leader. When we did this with President Hosni Mubarak we took a leap of faith, but then the army took over and made our lives hell for a year and half. Military trials for civilians, curfews, assassinations of activists, massacres of Ultras Ahly in a Port Said soccer stadium, the killers of the January 25th revolution were acquitted, female protesters were forced to undergo virginity tests, among many other atrocities.

Now we are doing the same thing. The army came out and gave the opposition 48 hours to come up with a solution and surprise surprise…they couldn’t. So Mursi’s power was given to the high constitutional court, Judge Adly Mansour.

 I don’t know him, but if Liberals thought that the elections were fraudulent, well guess what? Adly Mansour was supervising those elections. He was also a long-serving judge under former President Hosni Mubarak. And NOW he holds all POWERS, so let’s hope he is a trustworthy person because then we are screwed.

 The 30th of June protests included activists, the felool (remnants of the old regime) and the police. Yes, the police was involved, an entity that is supposed to be neutral and protect everyone. The police were holding pictures of the martyrs whom they killed in the 2011 revolution, demanding justice.  The thought alone leaves me speechless.


Egypt internet

What now?

 Sami Anan, former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, announced that they regained their revolution, and expressed his happiness with the success of 30th of June revolution.

This is essentially a revolution of the revolution

General Sisi, the Minister of Defense, didn’t give a timeline for when this transition period would end and he dissolved the constitution. Which means we must continue to pressure the army to plan for the elections as early as possible.

 We are not done. This new revolution is not over.

This is essentially a coup because we didn’t elect the person in power now and the power is not in civilian hands.  

Even though everyone is refusing to admit it. Or maybe it’s as Robert Fisk suggested: “When is a military coup not a military coup? When it happens in Egypt, apparently.”

We ousted Mursi just like we did with Mubarak, and again gave the power to the army.

If Mursi had everyone under his control, how come the police went out against him? How come all those people marched against him? Because the police, army, and other governmental agents were not under his control. He was completely alone. I do believe he tried his best. 

Mursi did not shut down all channels that were speaking against him like what the army did this week with all the religious channels. 

military-coup-in-egypt-2-english

The military, state security and police are arresting the Muslim Brotherhood leader (déjà vu anyone?), they are arresting them without any charge yet. The sad thing is that they now will imprison them with the consent of the people.

 The Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood made grave mistakes. They blindly followed their leaders, they refused to have a dialogue, and they assumed that refusing an Islamic state essentially meant that corruption would spread.

Those leaders gave their followers the feeling that their Muslim identity was under attack. I wish they would open their eyes and accept diversity, which includes everyone. I really wished they hadn’t excluded us like that.

During Mursi’s presidency the media was brutal, both the Islamist and the Liberal media. For a year it was as if the media was giving us shots of hate against each other and AGAIN we fell for it, just like during Mubarak ‘s time, and during the military rule in 2011. 

This new revolution brought hope to many but it also changed our lives.

As many celebrated, clashes happened causing the death of more than 20 people and injuring more than 200. More that 100 women were sexually assaulted and raped on Tahrir Square.

I can’t celebrate until this unknown transitional period ends. I hope Egyptians start tolerating each other and refuse to kill each under any circumstances. I wish we would learn to respect each other despite our differences. I wish we understand that the people in power don’t really care about us; they will do anything to protect themselves.

 To continue these devastating times the morning of july 8th 2013, the army raided the MB sit at the republic guard palace killing 53 people including 8 women, 5 children and 2 infants. My heart breaks for them.

People are still defending the army despite what happened and saying the MBs were armed. May I remind you of the Maspero protests where the army killed and ran over Christians with tank then they said the Christians were armed. They had a press conference concerning the MB massacre and they didn’t mention the 53 people who died. As if they were nothing.

 On July 9th , SCAF issues a constitutional declaration which is extremely dictatorial and clearly made to oppress people.

Is it too hard to get a leader who cares?

I wish for a true leader that wants what is best for this country. 

I want a leader who will fight for the fathers and mothers who have to go through hell everyday to put food on the table, who will fight for the women and men who decided to take a low paying job instead of working in prostitution and drugs, who will fight for all the children who had to run away from their abusive parents and forced to live on the streets because they have no where else to go, who will fight for the rights of minorities.

We are all brothers and sisters in this country and I shall fight for our rights, freedom, social justice, and bread…until my last breath.

afraid

SAMAR “Tahrir”, my revolution. Episode 7 Nihal (ENG)

SAMAR MEDIA – “Tahrir”, my revolution.
Episode 7- NIHAL (Feb. 8)

Co-founder of Bassma Movement
Dokki, Cairo.
26.

Inspired by her family heritage and her faith, Nihal has been socially active in the community since she was a teenager. She explains how the revolution impacted on her way of life and her way of thinking. She has since created a movement made of volunteers called “Bassma” that works against sexual harassment in Cairo.

She denounces the attitude of the new government led by the Muslim Brothers. She adds that the new ruling Party has an obvious problem: “Woman”.

Revolution from the heart of a microbus driver

On Sunday night the 25th of July 2011 I was riding microbus from Banha to Cairo, I was sitting next the driver and we started talking about the revolution.

Me: how long have you been a driver?

Him (with a smile on his face): 30 years

Me: that’s a long time and always from Banha to Cairo?

Him: no every where

Me: did your job get affected by the revolution?

Him: yes, of course, but the revolution is something good, the main issue with Egypt was the Police they became very
corrupt to the extent that they feel untouched, no one can speak to them anymore.

Me: has they ever mistreated you?

Him: yes, but I never kneeled I always talked back to them and hit back if necessary, so I became known among the officers and a red mark was put on my name, and then I would get arrested according to the law of emergency under
the excuse that I am a drug dealer or a terrorist, now there is no more police.

Me: what about the thugs that the SCAF is talking about?

Him: those thugs were created by the police and for the police as well, and now they are unable to control them, the police basically took advantage of the poverty of the people and used them for criminal actions. Many of those thugs got addicted to crime and don’t what else to be done. It will take them maybe 3 to 5 years to be able to put all them under control

Me: what do you think about putting a min and max wage law?

Him: yes it should be done, min 1,200EGY is good and max 24,000Egy, it is unfair to have people who can’t find bread and others are getting over 100,000EGY per month, I worked as a driver for the Armed Forces factory in Banha for 29 years, and I decided to go on an early retirement I was 44 years old at the time and the legal age for retirement is 60 years old. My pension is 525EGY per month. I have 3 kids one high school, one in preparatory school, and another in primary school. How am I supposed to put food on the table? so I have to work night and day.

Me: so since the strikes are affecting your work should the people stop and go home?

Him: No they shouldn’t, they should stay till they have their rights back.

Me: what do think Egypt will be like in the future?

Him: the best and most beautiful country in the world, we have so many beautiful things that we can use for our benefit and I have seen some behavior adjustment in some people and we should take advantage of that.
We arrived at the microbus stop

Me: thank you so much for the ride.

Him: it was a pleasure
I didn’t pay him to say those words I only paid him for the ride which was 6EGY, and he doesn’t come from a rich family, he is not a spy and he is not felool…

so I guess I will leave the comments for you

Mohamed Mahmoud Battle

November, Friday the 18th we went to Tahrir demanding the end of the military rule; FINALLY people saw the true face of SCAF and marched to Tahrir. The day went peaceful. Many left the square at sunset however a few stayed among them were the families of the martyrs (demanding justice to be done to officers who killed their sons) and  those who were injured on Jan25, Jan28 and other clashes (they weren’t able to afford treatment for their injuries and the government wasn’t supporting them as they promised).

Saturday morning the police and the army raided the square beating up everyone in the sit-in including the injured. I was watching on Al-Jazeera and I became so ANGRY; this should not be happening. Violence is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. I drove to Tahrir and met a friend there. As i came closer i smelled the tear gas my heart started pounding from fear but i didnt let my fear control me. I saw a CSF truck on the side abandoned by the CSF officers after thats more protesters came to defend the sit-in. On the side street, Mohamed Mahmoud street, there was another armored truck with an officer on top shooting directly at the protesters, the protesters in return were throwing rock try to keep away from raiding the square.

They were shooting of rubber bullets and tear gas didn’t stop until late and it only stopped for like 10min and those 10min i was able to home to rest, (I used live of Mohamed Mahmoud), soon after the shooting started again and i was trapped at home along with my friends, we were unable to go out and help and we were unable to sleep. Later on we went on the roof top of our building to see what was happening, the smoke formed a cloud over the street and through this cloud i could only see the lights coming from the ambulances picking up the injured.

They stopped in the morning around 9am, we quickly took the chance and left the house heading to the nearest pharmacies and getting medical supplies. Around 10:30am the shooting started again and our state media started saying that the people protesting in tahrir are thugs who want to raid the Ministry of Interior, MOI is yes in the area but Mohamed Mahmoud was the not only street leading to it) so if we wanted to do so we wouldn’t have cornered ourselves in one street also Every time we would push back the CSF we would return to the square however they would come back and attack us.

Soon the square was full and thousands of people came to support our cause and to the stop of violence against peaceful protesters. Protesters started flowing through falaky street hoping to put more pressure on the police to stay back and not enter the square. I joined them on falaky street with medical supplies: cotton, sodium chloride (to reduce the tear gas effect) and vinegar and alcohol sprays (to help in the breathing process). Tear gas bombs were shot one after the other sometimes 2 bombs at the same time, I stayed on the streets helping protester from 10:3oam till sunset when the police started heavily attacking with more officers running towards us, we started running and i went up a building with another 15 people. The police raided the field hospital i was in and took all those who were injured and or unable to run. At the top floor of that building a woman opened up her home to us, it was a very simple house, she didnt have much to offer but she was not afraid to help us. we stayed there for about an hour hiding. In this hour we turned on the TV to see that the army officers attack tahrir burning the tents, beating and killing those who were not fast enough in getting away.

Then the weirdest thing happened, the army left the square, and the police retreated  which made the people come back to the square. I really have to stop here. why did they leave? why didn’t they keep the square ? it was as if they wanted those clashes to continue. it was as if they want to give the police time to regroup and reload.

I was able finally to leave that woman’s house and go back home where again the shooting went on all night. Again no sleep and no peace. The shooting stopped around 9am and i was able to leave again, and again i went to get medical supplies, food and water. But the police had pushed the protesters on falaky street into bab el louq.

On bab el-louq i met Nour. Nour is a 16 year old boy who decided to help me and my friend. We started talking him and me, he said that this is all game to postpone the parliament elections next week, the police has always been dirty and dishonest. He seemed very aware for his a 16 year old boy. He told me about a nightmare he had, he dreamed the police were beating him up and he was crying for help but no one helped him. I was speechless, I really didnt know what to tell him. I felt anger towards our current situation that turned teenagers into old men afraid to speak. Kids and teenager are fighting and dying for there future instead of enjoying the present.

I couldn’t go home that night and i stayed at a friend’s place. I slept for the first time in 2 nights only to be waken up quickly by the feeling of pain in my back, stomach and bones. My head was dizzy, i felt i was being poisoned slowly. 3 days of none stop tear gas so far. I still went back to bab el-louq the next Tuesday. I heard from some people that Muslim brothers called us thugs and refused to come to the square, that really made me sad; they sold us out. I felt betrayed. I left bab el-louq for a short break and went to tahrir and there were thousands of people, it lifted my spirits up a bit and i still saw some people from the MBs but not formally but some of them were there. The Muslim Brothers were preparing for the parliamentary elections and didn’t want to lose.

Wednesday, I met Ahmed, a soldier in the army who had a few days off from the service and decided to come to Mohamed Mahmoud to help the protesters as he saw that this was unacceptable. He said the army was backing up the CSF  and was afraid if getting caught. Later on he told us that he was preparing for his sister’s wedding.

Wednesday evening some Islamic leaders of Al-Azhar came for a truce, the police agreed but ended seconds after the police started shooting at the Al-Azhar leader as they turned their backs to the police and the clashes continued….

On thursday the same thing happened but this time more Azhar leaders came but with were not able to stop the clashes except for 2 hours, Thursday evening a SCAF representative spoke on TV saying that they have tolerated enough and neither them nor the police attacked any protesters (such murders).

But one of the gains was the speeding up of the presidential elections instead of having in June 2013 it was brought forward to May and June 2012, they couldn’t handle the pressure of the street. The parliament elections were days after that and the plan was to give up power to the new elected parliament which they didn’t of course.

The ultras were there for the entire week and they are kids between the ages of 13 and 18 years old, they were fearless. The more the police hit the more people came. I can’t erase the memory of those kids getting injured and dying on Mohamed Mahmoud. The sirens of ambulances are still in my head. I stayed sick for a month after that constant pain in my body, cant eat right and always tired. I thought it was my end approaching.

when the elections came i knew that it would not be a fair elections and its all a game because a part of wanted some hope of a stable country where every one could be treated fairly. On voting i couldn’t vote for any one who didn’t support the revolution.

Clashes ended on Thursday after the army put up a wall, almost 50 people died, and more than 1000 injured (among them lost their eyes because police was aiming directly into the protesters faces). Deaths happened due a shot in the head or suffocated from the tear gas.

I would understand if many want to forget those people and put it all behind them but i cant and i cant especially forget those who killed my bothers and sisters are still out there enjoying his freedom.

Clashes Continues

The army stood by and watched us die and get injured during the battles for Tahrir that started on the 2nd of Feb claiming that they had no orders from Tantawi to interfere. Every single sit in after that was dispersed violently by the army causing more deaths and injuries. YET the people trusted SCAF. Many still trusted our media. How pitiful that is to choose the illusion of stability over freedom and true justice.

In March2011, SCAF decided to do a referendum amendments on some a articles on the constitutions, a summary of  the proposed amendments include the following:

  • Article 75: A candidate would be ineligible if he or she had dual nationality, parents who were citizens of countries other than Egypt or married to a non-Egyptian.
  • Article 76: Easing the requirements for being a presidential candidate.
  • Article 77: Limiting the terms a president can serve to two consecutive terms, each four years only.
  • Article 88: The juridical system is responsible for monitoring the election process.
  • Article 93: would give the highest appeal court the power to rule on challenges to disputed parliamentary races, whereas before only the parliament could decide.
  • Article 139: The president must appoint a vice-president within 60 days of the start of the term
  • Article 148: would impose new restrictions on the president declaring a state of emergency, including requiring the approval of a parliamentary majority, and says it cannot exceed six months unless it is extended through a referendum.
  • (Article 179): would be canceled. The article allows the president to use military courts for “terror” cases even for civilians.
  • (Article 189): Require the newly elected parliament to write a new constitution within 60 days.
I saw those amendments as ridiculous and we should vote NO and create a new constitution first then have presidential elections, but the media in collaboration with SCAF started scaring the people saying that there is a chance if we rewrite the constitution Islam will not be a reference for our laws and Egypt will sieze to be an islamic state and that things will be unstable until we get a president, which was ofcourse a lie because the majority are muslim and Islam is not something to be enforced. In other words SCAF conveyed that they want to leave power so by voting yes would mean they would reliquish power to the new president within 6 month (from March 2011). The majority voted YES and drove us into a wall basically.
SCAF didn’t leave within 6 month, civilians are put on military trials and the country is still unstable.
As matter of fact according to our the constitution the head of  The Supreme Constitutional Court should have been president for 6 month till we elect a president within those 6 month, SCAF does NOT exist in our constitution but after 30 years of oppression and political ignorance only a minority knew this and the rest were just driven by SCAF and the media.