It’s close to two years since the revolution first began here in Egypt. We started off on a high. The whole world stopped and stared. We looked like we were going to achieve the impossible.
We inspired not only our neighbours, but mankind as a whole, with our organisation, determination and condemnation of the corrupt, the violent and the oppressive.
Egyptians of all ages, classes, political persuasions and religions stood hand-in-hand to topple a regime that had suffocated us all and the global community encouraged us to hold our heads up high. Now, Egypt stands on the brink of change but we are no longer one unit. We are no longer watched and urged along. We are forced into taking sides, we are disheartened, we are disappointed and we are dreading what might happen next. But we’ll always be determined.
Here at CairoScene, we think it’s important to keep spirits high; to inspire and encourage. We think the foreign media needs to pay attention to us once again. We think we need to defend our revolution by defending the very beliefs, emotions and urges that had us out on the streets in January 2011. We’ve asked some of our (and, hopefully, your) favourite columnists to write letters from Egypt to the local, regional and global communities to help put recent events into context and underline the original aims of this revolution: a free Egypt. So listen up world, this is Cairo Calling:
I currently sit in my living room. Garbage bags are sprawled across the floor in preparation to repair damage done to my wall. The painters are here fixing the cracks with just a bit of putty and some paints. In just a few swipes, the cracks almost disappears. This wall has sat needing repairs for month yet today, I received a call that the cracks can be filled and the wall fixed. I find it symbolic and fitting that after one of the worst days in our country’s history, the cracks were repaired.
It’s safe to say today our country is filled with cracks and divisions. These cracks and divisions grow wider as the days go by. I truly hope that someone can come and with a few brushes remove these imperfections. It doesn’t seem like that person exists. In fact, it seems like the only people being vocal aim to do the opposite.
I recall the days of and after January 25th where we would chant “Raise your head up, you’re Egyptian.” In a matter of a year, and after some change, this chant seems to be nothing more than a distant memory. More labels exist now, Ikhwani, Christian, Salafist, Muslim, Liberal, Secularlist, Leftist, Feloul,etc. This labels are created to bring division.
We stand at a time where change is happening and even though we have an elected leader, his silence seems to do nothing more but lead this country to chaos. When fighting one another, remember that we are all Egyptian, classmates, co-workers, friends and families.
No one should die over their beliefs and no one should kill for someone who hides behind someone who doesn’t even know they exist.
I hope for peace, I pray for unity.
On the morning of February 12, 2011 I wrote an article that began, “I’m an Egyptian revolutionary and I toppled a dictator!” It was such a proud, emotional moment for me and so many other Egyptians. For 18 days straight, we left our homes and our families not knowing whether we would return to them. Our objective was bringing democracy to our country. We wanted a better future for ourselves and for our children. We knew that the toppling of the regime would only be the first step toward democracy. We knew we had many more birthing pains to endure. But we finally felt that we had what it takes as a people to put our country straight, no matter how long or painful the process.
Nearly two years have passed since that proud moment. The first two months after that I traveled around the world with my Egyptian flag, feeling like I could raise my head high for the first time as an Egyptian. Now my head hangs low. Circumstances have caused me to be away from Egypt for the past five weeks. I spend much of my time with my laptop on my knees, switching from one online Egyptian television channel to another and following the reactions of Egyptians through social media.
On 5th of December, I broke down crying. I could take it no longer. What was happening in my country was atrocious. Revolutionaries were fighting revolutionaries. Religion was being introduced as a factor in a situation where it had no place to be mentioned. The country’s “leaders” were not leading. The country’s “protectors” were not protecting. And while some politicians seemed to be indirectly inciting violence others were openly inciting it.
We have gone through too much, come too far, for our baby to be a stillborn. It will take years for our democracy to grow into something viable. In the meantime, we need to teach ourselves the tools of democracy. Although demonstrations can be an effective tool of expression, we need to know that they are not the only one. Our current crisis arises from decades-worth of political ignorance and oppression. We need to focus our efforts on education and building political awareness. Newly founded political parties need to build strong popular bases that arise from actual work within communities, i.e. development, and not just lots of political fervor. It is time to build. We’ve already had too much destruction.
This is not a day for sadness, it is a day of optimism. As we mourn our fallen brethren, we must resolve that the defeat of radicals can and will only be achieved through peaceful means.
I’ve seen the vileness of what they’ve committed, bringing it to blood on the streets on Egypt, and that fills me with nothing but conviction. This is the beginning of the end for them, both politically and socia lly.
The battle ahead is two-pronged. First we continue to amass and pressure on the streets, no matter the risks, but not descend to their blood-thirsty, indiscriminate state of mind. Through peace, we shall expose and conquer them, a process that has already begun.
Secondly, and more importantly, if we do not build a nation-wide network of social development to fulfill the needs of those whom they buy out with rice, oil and few words of God, distorted in their favor, then we will not be able to eliminate what we call “The Sheep/Herd mentality”. Yes, underprivileged Egyptians have a mind of their own, but not everyone can afford to stand up to radicals when in need of food, shelter, treatment and basic human amenities, which they are quick to provide.
So do not channel your anger into violence, that will do no good. Channel it into goodwill, and a resolve to remain in the streets, until the rest of the country feels the same way you do.
They are not going to go away, no one is going to throw them back into prisons, and no matter how they defile humanity in all it’s essences, we must not. They must be defeated on a grass root level, which they’ve been building for 80 years.
Peaceful street presence will win us this battle, compassion will win us this war.
To all onlookers and skeptics:
I want you to know that I never understood what patriotism was. I always heard others speak of patriotism, but to me, having been raised and educated on four different continents, I could not speak of identity and roots the way many others could. I felt that I was a stranger; I felt unaccepted and different with no hope of ever truly belonging.
That is, until the 25th of January. I wasn’t in the country, but I saw through the television screen the love and the unity that bound every man and every woman to the country and made them proudly fight for their rights against the bigotry, dictatorship, censorship and injustice that had existed for so long. For the first time in my life, I was fiercely proud to be Egyptian and that’s when I had a revelation.
I’ve always felt different; but Egypt itself is different. It has been a home to many a weary traveller throughout the ages and prophets and messiahs have passed through it and blessed its land; it is the home of Muslim, Christian, male, female, young, old, rich, poor and everything else under the sun and moon.
We all belong because we are bound by the one thing that transcends every single difference: love. That gives me hope. Even now, when so many people are trying to divide us and we find ourselves without a true leader, I will always believe that our love for each other will prevail, because we are one. We have always survived and so we shall forever.
God bless you Egypt, as He always has.
I don’t have anything enlightening to add to the situation, but that’s what you get when you have a country with a population that secretly contained a vast spectrum of ideologies, yet were never allowed to express or debate ‘the other’ during the previous dictatorship reign by the Mubarak clan.
Apparently we’re not all knitted in the same fabric of common sense, and some folks are naive enough to believe anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth, specially if coated with sugary layer of divinity.
I hope we can find a middle ground soon where we put all differences aside and start working on rebuilding the country (preferably starting with fixing that pothole in my street).
Things have changed; there’s no doubt about that.
Thinking back to the January 25th revolution, I remember it being an explosion of colours, cheers and chants. I remember feeling safe even as tear gas and water cannons were fired at us because we were all in this together. I remember the elation in every corner of the country as we took our first steps towards finding freedom. It felt like it was Eid and Christmas, all at once and every day.
Now the footage we see is grim and grey. The chants we hear are calls to war. After seeing a close family friend on TV last night, talking about her nightmarish experience of being groped, beaten to a pulp and arrested outside the presidential palace, I no longer feel safe. The elation has turned into anger and the celebrations are now catastrophes. It’s stressful. It’s enough to make you switch off the TV, sign out of Twitter and retreat. It’s enough to eradicate hope, make you give up the struggle and block the whole situation from your mind. It’s enough to break your heart.
But if I’ve learned one thing about heartbreak, it’s that it only goes away when you make a conscious effort to recover. And it isn’t easy. We need to carry on with our day-to-day lives and keep the economy going; we need to make sure children are in school learning, so we can pass the torch to them; we need to guarantee that all those in need are getting the medical and financial help they’re desperate for, all while fighting for the freedoms we began to get a taste of almost two years ago. If we give up now – much like anyone suffering from heartbreak – things will only get worse as our misery takes a toll on our minds. So pick yourself up, brush yourself off and do what you believe will mend the terrible break up we’ve been going through with our country. Tell yourself and tell the world that you deserve freedom the same way you deserve love and this time, wear your heart on your sleeve – it’s tough enough to take it.
We want you to share these messages with your family, friends and with the world. Leave your own letter in the comments section or email us at info@CairoScene.com and we’ll do our best to get it out there, encouraging and inspiring others through these tough times.