Monday, November 14, 2011

الناس الصغيرة لما كبرت - On Alaa - the friend i miss

I think of Alaa alot these days - there is the obvious reason why i may, bas also because i miss him as a friend.

I think of him especially when i feel my heart tug to the weight of all the heartache behind the revolution. I think of when i called him towards the end of January. When all was in question, and many many people had died. What if we were suppressed, i asked? What if we couldn't avenge their deaths?. "E7na beneksab!!" he kept shouting on the phone; 'We're winning' - he couldn't understand how anything i might have seen or experienced could undermine that. 'E7na ba2eyna thawra' - we've grown into a revolution.

I think also of how the last time we had a discussion he was saying maybe the reason that masses had never mobilized for our protests since 2005 was because we always talked about the 'constitution', 'freedom of speech/press', the judiciary... all things that were irrelevant to people because the system, state and structure as a whole was illegitimate. When the call was for the toppling of a regime - something we may have deemed possible, but possibly far fetched, a population took to the streets. We, the people, are more radical, than radicalism. The masses mobilized when the cause was worthy, and that one was.

I'd known of him and Manal for long before we actually met in 2005 - where i constantly heard about them from a common friend - we all shared a dream of developing a camp or alternative school of sorts for kids. There we'd reverse the effect of schools, bring in an explosion of art, critical thinking and maybe a light infusion of all those values behind ideology. Or in short, a bit of socialism.

We decided to meet regularly, or salma to introduce us, but it never really happened.

In 2005, i joined the May 25th protests, was attacked as a woman, as a girl, as a person, as a protestor, and as some one who wasn't allowed to vote against amendments. It became personal. After the ugly protest i roamed the city with Nora younis, out of one surreal meeting into another. We discussed the day with everyone from the cabs we rode with, to the people we met with, tried to work on people who were arrested, and made friends with a felucca sailor who said that 'el nas el soghayara' (the little people) always pay the price of trying to play politics.

The day ended in Hisham Mubarak, where i met Alaa's dad - Ahmed Seif. A man I learn so much from, from afar. On a day that was cold and confusing, where i was hurt in many different ways, he felt like a warm hug. He had been hurt himself, had been to jail for 5 years, had been tortured, but emerged out of it with a stronger faith in justice somehow, and a life devoted to it.

I know his years in jail were not easy on Alaa, and that is the thought that makes the idea of Alaa in prison most painful to contemplate. He would not have wanted his son to be born without him. But i have no doubt that he does this, because he would not want a son born to a father with anything less than complete integrity. In this way, in his living up to his chants that SCAF is not fit to rule, by refusing to be interrogated by them; he is true to himself, and true to the man that Laila Soueif and Ahmed Seif have brought up. He is also true to Manal in whom he looks for himself and mostly to Khaled Alaa Ahmed Seif Abdelfattah, who will come to the world roaring with pride.

Khaled will forever be told the story of how his father was in jail when he was born - his father whose love for his mother is as famous a fact as Alaa's own activism. That he would risk a moment so special for something as real as the sense of justice, and integrity. To be consistent through and through.

So i left Ahmed Seif on that 25th of May astounded, inspired and filled with resolve. And i wrote this note.

and it somehow made its way to Alaa, and he got in touch with;

"Hi Alia,

salma beblawi forwarded me your El nas el soghayara piece, I loved it.

I don't know if you know about blogs and the small but growing Egyptian

blogging movement (check and hell maybe you're even part of it already

who knows.

anyway I wanted to check is El Nas El Soghayara is published anywhere on

the web, and if not to invite you to publish it somewhere for more

people to read it.



'Blogs and blogging' were still a thing you may not know about in 2005 :)

The email turned into a discussion and one in particular about his father Ahmed-Seif. He talked for a bit about how his father being in jail dispersed the conditions of bad guys and good guys for him as a child...

He explained some of the confusions: his father was in prison 'but' he was good/ 'so' he was good'? Cops put him in prison, so were all cops bad? or were some still good/necessary? Ahmed Seif is still in touch with his prison guards, and talks to them like buddies, and they always want to do him favors. But weren't they 'baddies'?

I can't imagine grappling with such questions as a toddler, when you would still proudly announce when someone asked you what your father did for a living with "He's in jail :) ". Laila Soueif then taught him to say "He's a political prisoner", and not merely 'in jail'. Still alot for a five year old to muster, i imagine.

Handling such complications perhaps explains Alaa's deep-set notions of justice and radicalism and right and might. But they don't, because somehow at the end it boils down to something really simple. In that first exchange of emails in 2005, he explained Ahmed Seif a bit better:

"thats the thing with my dad he is not sacrificing, he is not doing any

thing special, to him its a normal thing and I suppose this is what

inspires everyone. you don't need to be special, courageous, strong, or

anything like that, you just need to be good."

Look who you've grown into ya Alaa :)

While 'just being good' is what drives Alaa to be brave; what drives me , certainly is being surrounded by family and friends and the bubble of trueness of intent that they create. I've been lucky these last 6 years as my life has been a constant production and reproduction and affirmation and reaffirmation, that all that is ideal can be real, and all that is good is possible and all around us.

I cannot begin to describe what it means to be in a revolution with your husband, your brother, your father, your mother, your aunt, your cousins. Death shrinks in insignificance. And the risks you take you internalize, and they become you, and part of all your lives. Needless to say, bravery, legitimacy, protest, chanting, revolution it all, all becomes about love. All the love you've ever felt or wanted to feel floats out of you and binds us all as 'us'.

I can't begin to imagine that Khaled has been conceived of this :) And that he will be born into a world of ideals, the best time of our lives, where all our focus and all our energies are focused unto being good, and proving that this IS a world where we will be.

(Alaa is also someone i love because he reminds me it's ok to be corny. that i manage to say 'fluffy' things in a way that matter. in honor of this reminder - and him being the only person who encourages me to be like this, i let it all through ;))

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why the Egyptian Revolution matters to us all..


If the occupations that have sprung up across our globe are indeed inspired by Cairo’s Tahrir Square (as we say they are), then it is worth mentioning that a number of people who were crucial for the organization of the Tahrir Square demonstrations are now behind bars. In fact, over 12,000 of them have been imprisoned.

The Egyptian military has practiced systematic violence against protestors since the beginning of the revolution. Covert at first, repression escalated when the security services fired into crowd that had gathered in Tahrir Square in April. Particularly, they targeted a small group in military uniform who claimed to be splitting ranks and had come to the square for protection. In June, the military attacked a protest by the families of those killed during the revolution. In August, the square was forcefully evicted.

The strongest blow, however, was on October 9th, when hundreds of protestors who marched in solidarity with Coptic Christians were attacked in a night of bloodshed and violence. Twenty-eight peaceful protestors died, hundreds of others were injured.

The army announced its investigation into what became ‘The Maspiro Massacre’, and within two weeks summoned activists and bloggers Alaa Abdelfattah and Bahaa Saber to be interrogated as suspects for the violence that had occurred. Mina Daniel, an activist shot dead on that day, was designated as the prime suspect for inciting violence. Essentially, Mina was being accused of his own murder.

Abdelfattah and Saber refused to be interrogated by a body they deemed illegitimate. They argued that the military was too implicated in the violence to be able to properly investigate it. As a result, criminal charges (of inciting violence and stealing military equipment) were levelled against them. While Saber was let out on bail, Abdelfattah was detained for 15 days pending investigation.

Has anything changed since Mubarak, one asks? As a matter of fact, much has.

More and more arrested bloggers and activists are refusing to appear before military courts, demanding civilian trials where their cases will be considered objectively. For this, many pay with their freedom. But they insist they will not answer to an illegitimate body. We are not afraid to say it: the Supreme Council of Armed Forces is not fit to rule.

In Mubarak’s era, we were an opposition movement. We operated in the margins, creating spaces for dissent in make-shift theatres and online blogs, where we practiced our vision of democracy. Our spaces grew wider and wider until a nation revolted against tyranny and our vision took centre-stage. As the rallying cry of a popular revolution, our vision has legitimacy. Since January, we could no longer be branded as a marginal opposition movement. The only illegitimate body in Egypt today is the Surpreme Council – it rules but fails to deliver justice.

A ‘No to Military Trials’ campaign is one of many grassroots initiatives that have developed since the start of the revolution. It mobilizes lawyers and campaigners whenever protestors or civilians are arrested and tried by the military. The campaign demands fair investigations and trials. It is one example how we have taken justice into our own hands. While the military continues to lose legitimacy, civil society is trying to fill the void.

Alaa Abdelfattah is an activist, but also a friend. I personally believe that his incarceration is not only on account of his bravery, but is a reaction of the authorities to his incessant description of the revolution as ‘an opportunity to dream’. In one meeting a few months ago, he announced: “We have achieved the impossible and surprised ourselves…we have the opportunity now, like no other time to dream up our new country. Let’s not wait for experts and technocrats tell us how to do it. For, they have already failed us and we have done what they could never do.”

What connects Tahrir to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London is our ability to create spaces to develop our dreams. Within the squares and the camps, we can imagine a different world. We can dream up alternatives and experiment with them in our daily practices. We meet people whom we would usually never meet, and tickle and trigger each others’ imaginations. This ability to dream, to imagine that another world is possible, is the biggest threat to any establishment, more so a military junta.

We are all implicated in the global web of power that works to keep us apart. A dream in one country is a threat to the world; and a threat to one dream, should mobilize us all in support of the alternative. Only then will our dreams prevail.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupying London, Anarchy and Making it all up as we go along

Just back from the London stock exchange occupation, and it was a much more refreshing experience than i had anticipated it to be. My initial motivation for going was protesting army brutality in Egypt on Sunday. Armed with 'whose afraid of the arab revolutions?!' ; 'Who's behind funding murderous military ' and a very secret and internal 'egypt is not london and london isn't egypt' , i hoped to create an egyptian corner. Thankfully no one was really interested and friends i met before felt it wiser to connect all causes together, so we went with the first two slogans as well as others such like 'we the 99% from Cairo to London'.

What was refreshing however is that it almost felt like home. The random conversations struck up with different people you have nothing in common with, and suddenly so much more. Discussions of all we feared, and the anxiety of not knowing alternatives.

A man came to ask 'Is this an anti-capitalist demonstration' and a woman next to me felt she needed to be honest and that she hadn't decided she was anti capitalist yet. "I would be..." she explained, "but i wouldn't know what to do without all...well...these 'things'..." and she pulled out random items from her bag "i want choice". Another person went on critiquing the alternative 'communism'. And the argument between prospects and policies associated with all 'ism's brought forth ensued.

Then there was the next most popular question of 'should we really be bringing something apart without having a clear alternative?? shouldn't we structure a comprehensive alternative first'. This is when i explained that these were the very questions that held us back from a revolution for decades.

I loved how the fears are universal. People are exhilarated by the possibility of a possibility of an alternative; but the lapse of the current world is just so unthinkable, that an alternative is unimaginable.

But that's mainly because we're stuck in so many dichotomies? Does it need to be this or that? Can't we think up a whole other socio-political-economic system that works for us. Start with things we lack the most. How can a system of government(nance) be more accountable to its people - what ideologies/or simple ideas can grant or garauntee social justice..

We always find ourselves stuck in this fear of not having a fool-proof and comprehensive system to propose instead of the existing one. When the existing one has taken years, if not decades to put together. Not to mention that it is at that point in the cycle of coming together where it is disintegrating.

In a 'process' work-group, we were trying to discuss and debate different ways of decision making. Very much like the first few days of the June sit in in tahrir, there was a huge debate as to whether the known mechanisms, systems of representation, voting and consensus should be used; or if we should opt for that which is the more radical and experimental. The alternative that we don't know yet. Experience shows that experimenting with alternative means of management and decision making, takes much much more time. And much learning as we go along. Whereas falling on ways we 'already know' is much more effecient. But if we can't experiment, and go out on a limb a little in spaces that are already radical and 'outside the system' like these, then were can we?

We have to remember, i feel, that these spaces are not only spaces where we stand (or sit) to get a certain message across to the government; they are also (and more importantly, i feel) spaces where we meet with people we'd never usually meet. People we have nothing in common with, but much in common with on that particular point in time and space where we met. It's where we can discuss the similarity of our discussions, be blatantly honest about our fears, and experiment with our relationships with each other and the bigger society. It's where we learn about all those of us the world is made up with. I sat 'retelling' all the tales that Fox and BBC had already volunteered about the "latest deadly sectarian clashes between muslims and christians in egypt". I also got much insight about the situation in iran, and what the truth behind the crumbling of the NHS may be. Lots of really interesting ideas about the question fo the importance of decision making in teh first place arose in the 'process work-group'. Do we really need to deliberate and make decisions all teh time? Must we be presented with a dichotomy? To do this or not to do it? Or can we decide in layers. Start with a very thin and simple proposal and pass it around and see how it grows.

Julian Assange came in, lightly, humbly and cheered by the world, he came in through the crowd and to the top of St Paul's stairs. He gave a little speech and warned that (and i improvise as i can't remember exact words) "We are being held hostage to the rule of law - we should be less concerned with obeying the rule of law, and more concerned with making laws that govern us all , equally' . Us and them i suppose. But we are beign held hostage to many things. All of them our fears.

Our fear of no longer having access to running shoes and a wide array of chocolates and medicines, our fear of bearded men in short galabeyyas and their say in our lives; our fear of militias; our fear of making less money; and our fear of a temporary period of instability. But much like each of our personal lives, i feel it's those moments of societal instabilities that make us who we are. They stop our lives, shake us, our beliefs adn understanding of things; and suddenly everything is temporarily not as it ever was, and for some brief moment it can be anything, anything at all.

But the key is to take it one step at a time; for to construct it all straight away could only mean falling back on all we already know too well , or risking that. What comes to mind to me, is the popular committees taht arose at the start of the revolution to protect public property, organized to manage traffic and help calm people when the army came out and was overwhelmed and useless; and eventually developed into forms of community governance. Keeping security up, creating a group to monitor prices in markets and make sure they stay reasonable; starting campaigns to pressure municipalities to collect garbage etc. They grow in credibility, in numbers of people and governors will have no choice but to become accountable to them. One day they may replace the idea of a governer's governance and present the idea of an elected municipality, accountable to its community.

We're all afraid of disorder, but a little anarchy may mean we get a chance to explore the possibilities and try to organize in a different way. A chance at a stronger more sustainable sense of 'order'. I think , ironically, we have it in us, inherently. Revolutions are all about faith. Faith in the possibilities of an alternative future, and faith in ourselves as a people. Only then will we not be held hostage to law, order, and the other that surround us on a day like today.

We shouldn't expect ourselves to be ready with alternatives - that would be ruining everything. But we can definitely make it up as we go along, liberating our imaginations and building our alternative worlds, one step at a time. The most challenging revolution is the internal one, and the most euphoric moment is when we surprise ourselves.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Ruminations from one revolution to another

Since i've come to London - perhaps it is the distance, i have lots of dreams, nightmares, daydreams, flashbacks and many other instances, where i'm catapulted back to the more intense days of the revolution, and most often, or more particularly on the 28th.

I guess it's most probably because there wasn't ever the luxury to reflect or ruminate in Cairo, partly because there was constantly 'no time' , and partially also because everyone has been through what is equally and if not definitely more difficult, talk about an instance often turns into a competition of instances, and so reflecting on anything that is not the present or the future, feels at times dishonorable.

I've tried to avoid this trip 'away' for a long time, bas felt weighed down with the guilt of all the stories i've collected, the workers who built the dam, the Nubians displaced by it, the resistance of Porstaid of 1956, and people who resisted (and continue to resist) in suez from 1967 - 1973. Theirs are also stories that were silenced in a military-state written history; somehow in the question for 'national independence' one straight, creased out story had to be told, and the creases and folds and contradictions of a glorious state, and the stories of a people's resistance that did not always feel honorable fell out. There are also the everyday stories we now know well, of the fears and suspiciouns, the moments of weakness, the inability to unify against a common enemy that i felt people needed to get off their chest... My relationship with the generation of the 50s, definately changed drastically in the interviews from before the revolution to after.

Before the revolution i was a grandaughter. There was a strong sense of responsibility towards me - a girl coming 'all the way out here' we llewa7daha! in pursuit of el 3lem el akhruh taweel... that is no to mention that there was this general air of disapointment towards a generation not interested in how the highdam that provides their lives with light and internet was built, and the 'true story' behind why and how the English left and who chased them out.

After the revolution i became a comrade of sorts :) I came to represent a generation that was 'not so bad afterall' poets of the 50s and 60s wrote poems of apology towards the generation born in the 70s-90s. Part in apology part in encouragement , that the revolution must continue, and part also in warning, for we are a mutahawereen generation after all :) I felt the significance of the poems were not only about an ehda2 (i am late to post them but will do so soon), bas also that Kamel Eid who wrote those poems to encoruage the resistance in the 50s and 60s, will have also acknowledged our own resistance in 2000s. So it's not only about comraderie, bas this decision taht history should be a continous stretch.

My quest becomes not to write a history of 'us who are forgotten by it' , but to continue el masaar - 'write so they know how we did it'. hehe

Tab3an all this comes with the natural guilt that i may not necessary write what everyone expects me too. That is besides the fact that the Arabic translation of this dissertation is expected well before i even expect to finish the PhD!

All said, i cannot claim or conjure enough humility to be any less than honored to be doing these interivews. Post-revolution interviews have also warranted alot of trust i may not have been granted before. LIke giving me a peek into their diaries.

The diaries tell so much of the ordinary. Like, how 'scary' something was. How the sudden rain pours on the 5th of November, 1956 put out a fire started by British paratroupers that was anticipated to envelop Portsaid. I was told, secretly in a whistper, by many how this was actually a miracle. "You needn't write it down.. i know it's silly, but i went up to the roof stood in teh rain, and feel to my knees and prayed.. my father in law was a priest and he led us in prayer... all around you you could hear prayers from all the different religions and voices that made portsaid.. but miracles have no place in history..."

I heard the story of the miracle, and the weeping, by two others only, and both told me i could delete it off the recording. I've always relished the insignificant details people tell me in interviews (like when they fell in love, when they got drunk and lost in Russia when they were sent for training, when their loved ones died, or moments when they were terrified and did something dishonorable when arrested). I felt/feel those 'irrelevant' moments, were those who catapulted me into their lives, into the period, and lately, also helped me familiarize with them. In Madam Gizelle's diary entry, she took me through the details of the Cairo fire on the 26th of January 1952. When she talked about it in more detail after reading the entry, i found myself debating the fire and discussing it like it was teh fires on the 28ht of january 2011. I actually got carried away until she had to correct a geographic detail htat made me realize she and i were discussing events 59 years apart - almost to the day :) It was eerie. More so kaman as Madam Gizelle was 28 years old on the 26th of January 1952 - almost exactly as old as i was on the 28th of January 2011. And all the more because she went to an english school and our memories threaded in and out of different languages. We spoke in arabic when recounting el hetafaat and certain details and in english when lost in ideas, memories and reflections.

All this tab3an makes me regret deeply not working harder on keeping a diary during events. Something i think we all should. I tried a few times in January - but holding a pen/pencil could never be so difficult. There was never anytime, and when i did, my hands hurt like it was the winter cramping my muscles.. though it felt like something more. I inscribed short sentences on whatever pieces of paper i could find. The few words i wrote in very crooked handwriting said very little, but exhausted me emotionally to write. As if in writing i would be admitting that which i cannot afford to write about.

On the 25th - any writing was optimistic - something was starting, had started, and we would be in it and with it till the end , regardless of what that end would be; our very own, or anyone else's. From the 28th onwards , and particularly on that day it was uncertainty. So my diary entries read exactly that : "Uncertainty, i don't know what's going to happen. trying very hard" or "the army. the army's in the streets", or " i really don't know".

An untitled diary entry in mid february read " Death makes all things personal".

On the 28th of January i went to Alexandria. On the 25th of January as night fell and it seemed the media and journalists pulled out, and as our phones stopped working, 'we' knew something was going to happen. The decision to spend the night had been blown through us, a conviction whispered iwth all our hearts and sealed with the the 3 boys trudging around and through the square chanting "El gada3 gada3 , wel gabaan gabaan, we7na ya gada3 7anbaat fel midaaan". We collected money, we bought fool and kusharey and distributed them, people distirbuted tissues, there was juice, there was water. And soon, there were blankets.

As danger became more and more imminent, the mobilization started. Human chains had to be formed around the midan. For Yahia and i the decision to spend the night came easy, casually. I don't think we even discussed it - the night was a happy continuum, especially once our eyes and lungs had adjustd to tear-gas and we all knew the effect of shouting 'ethbat' when a ripple of panic came through teh crowds, or the shooting got a little crazy. But there was constantly a tormenting question of how far one would go. This is always difficult if you're two and want to stick together - but it's also very difficult on the personal level. And this tormented me throughout the revolution.

Would i join the frontlines? Did it feel fair to have others fight on my behalf, what use am i sitting in the middle , protected? As they 'mobilized us' towards the edges, i felt very uncomfortable, i did not bode well in confrontations, i did not want to be put in a position where i had to be aggressive, and usually when faced with aggression i'm hit with an almost child-like sensitivity - why does he want to hurt me so much? I've done NOTHING to this man. my fight is not with him...

My first confrontation with state security batons was in the fall of 1998, my next most memorable event was in 2005, and in 2011, except for karr and farr, i avoided being in direct confrontations all i could. I keep being told by random people that my skin will thicken after being beaten a few times, but i find that doesn't happen. I just don't like it - i never ever remember the beating, frankly i don't remember ever being touched, though i remember , particularly in 1998 seeing the baton rise and fall. What i do remember with most clarity is the look in the eyes of the green-eyed CSF soldier whose baton connected us in 1998, and the men that kept trying to grab at us through the human shield that formed suddenly around us girls in May 25, 2005. There was such an angry look in all their eyes, always something like "what i'm gong to do to you now, you'll never forget..."

I would still avoid that to save my life. It still haunts and embarasses me as cowardice. But the trauma of escaping stray bullets, is much easier to deal with than the trauma of seeing someone intentionally fire at me. I struggle to deal with that.

Thankfully my dilemna did not last long on 25th, as the heavy shooting started, and we were chased throughout downtown Cairo with heavy teargas and CSF soldiers appearing at every corner. Our day ended in Midan el falaki, after a significant tour of the streets surrounding it, though a number of our friends continued the chase throughout Cairo.

I'll never forget when the gas cleared a little and people re-grouped and we started chanting "Al shaab yurid esqaat al nidham", it was the strongest most powerful chant ever. Our voices were in powerful unison and blared through the still quiet of the night downtown; they ricocheted off the buildings in the narrower streets, and the lights came on one at a time in the buildings surrounding us, in no particular order... people stepped out into balconies with their hair in handkerchiefs, in their striped pijammas, rubbing at their sleep drenched eyes...

It was like a metaphor to the city awakening to the sound of a revolution :)

Something was beginning, and it was rippling throughout the country as one mind, heart and soul lit up after the other. The night was the last of good sleep before the struggle began for us all, and it extended far far beyond tahrir.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ترجمة نريمان لمقالي عن مؤتمر أهاي الشهداء في إمبابة

في ما يلي ترجمة ملخّصة لمقال كتبته عليا مسلّم بالانجليزية بعد حضور مؤتمر شعبي في امبابة. المؤتمر كان من تنظيم اللجنة الشعبية في امبابة لمناقشة محاكمة الضباط المتهمين بقتل المتظاهرين يوم ٢٩ يناير.


الاجتماع كان بيغلب عليه احساس الغضب. مشيت من هناك غضبانة أكتر مما رحت.

مبدئيا كنا عملنا قائمة بأسماء الصحفيين والاعلاميين وانا وإيهاب من اللجنة اتصلنا بيهم وعزمناهم يحضروا المؤتمر ومعظمهم أبدوا اهتمام. يوم المؤتمر سألت إيهاب لو حد من الصحفيين وصل وجاوبني: ولا واحد. يمكن لو كنا عملنا الاجتماع في نقابة الصحفيين كانت كل الناس جت." المشكلة اننا لازم نختار ما بين "كل الناس" و امبابة، وماينفعش نفضل متجاهلين امبابة.

وأهم حاجة في المؤتمر ده انه كان عن امبابة وعشان امبابة، والناس اللي كانت جاية من بره امبابة كانت مدعوة عشان التضامن والدعم. دعينا نشطاء وصحفيين وكمان لجان شعبية تانية من المطرية وكرداسة ودار السلام وغيرها من الأماكن اللي فيها وضع مماثل: يعني فيها متظاهرين اتقتلوا وماحدش بيتحاسب.

ليه، لحد دلوقتي، وبعد أكتر من ٤ شهور لسه التحقيقات ما كشفتش مين اللي أصدر الأوامر باطلاق النار؟ ليه لسه ما نعرفش إيه اللي حصل بالضبط وليه مافيش محاكمات حقيقية وعادلة بتظهر الحقيقة وتحاسب المسئولين؟

الأهالي اللي حضروا الجلسة الأولى للمحاكمة في أوائل مايو قالوا ان الضباط ما كانوش واقفين في قفص الاتهام. والقاضي أجل الجلسة ومشي لما عرف ان "بتوع امبابة هنا" ولما الأهالي اعترضوا قفلوا عليهم قاعة المحكمة؛ الأخبار اللي طلعت تاني يوم قالت ان الأهالي هاجموا مبنى المحكمة وبالتالي تم تأجيل المحاكمات أسبوع، وابتدت الاشاعات تنتشر في امبابة من مخبرين الداخلية ان القتلى كانوا بلطجية بيهاجموا الاقسام.

رد اللجنة الشعبية كان انهم أصدروا منشورات (عندي منها نسخة) بصور القتلى مع السن والمهنة (معظمهم طلبة في المدرسة أو الجامعة) وكمان كانوا فين بالضبط لما اتضربوا بالنار. اسلام، ١٥ سنة، كان خارج من الجامع لما الرصاصة دخلت في ضهره وخرجت من بطنه. ناصر، ١٨ سنة، كان بيجري على باب عمارته لما الطلقة جت في راسه. محمد صلاح، ٢٦ سنة، كان سايق التوك توك بتاعه لما اتضرب بالنار في صدره.

بعض أسر الشهداء اللى جم يتكلموا في المؤتمر حكوا ان اتعرض عليهم فلوس (وصلت ل١٥٠ ألف جنيه) عشان يتنازلوا عن القضايا، والبعض الآخر اتعرض عليهم شقق وغيرها. ولما رفضوا وأصروا على انهم المرة دي عايزين عدالة ونظام يضمن حقوقهم وحقوق ولادهم على المدى الطويل، اتقال لهم "خللوا بالكو، اللي هيحاسبونا دول حبايبنا، ده لو حد حاسبنا أصلاً."

بعد تبادل القصص اتكلمنا في الخطوات الجاية ممكن تكون إيه. المحامين الموجودين حذروا ان المحاكم لوحدها مش هتجيب للناس حقوقها، وان لازم يكون فيه حشد وتعبئة جماهيرية واعتصامات عند اقسام الشرطة.

الأهالي قالوا ان ثورتهم كانت ضد استبداد الشرطة، يبقى على أي أساس الشرطة لسه في نفس مكانها بنفس السُلطة ونفس الجبروت؟ وليه الناس لسه بتتعرض للظلم والمعاملة السيئة؟ هل لأن الثورة ما كانتش عنيفة بما فيه الكفاية؟ لو كده يبقى المرة الجاية هيكون فيه دم. مستعدين يدوا العدالة والمحاكم فرصتها بس بعد كده هيجيبوا حقوقهم بايديهم. لأنهم ما قاموش وثاروا وخاطروا بحياتهم وضحوا بحياة ولادهم عشان كل حاجة تفضل زي ما كانت.

واحد اتكلم وقال "الثورة مش بس في التحرير". من ال ١١٠٠ اللي اتقتلوا (الرقم وفقاً لعايدة سيف الدولة) كام واحد كانوا في التحرير وكام واحد ماتوا في المناطق الشعبية؟

أنا غضبانة ليه؟ لأن الثورة مستمرة من خلال اللجان الشعبية اللي أعضاءها بيناضلوا عشان يمارسوا سياسة حقيقية في مناطقهم، بيطالبوا بعدالة اجتماعية وبيشتغلوا على الوعي السياسي والاجتماعي وبيحاولوا يضمنوا ان صوت أهاليهم يوصل وما بيقبالوش مساعدات أو منح مادية عشان يحافظوا على مصداقيتهم قدام الأهالي. أنا غضبانة لأن كل الحاجات الجميلة دي بتحصل واحنا متجاهلينها تماما. كام واحد من النشطاء السياسيين بيحاولوا يدعموا الشغل الل بيحصل في امبابة وشبرا وحدايق القبة، أو حتى مدركين انه حاصل أصلاً؟

والأسوأ ان كتير من النشطاء بيتكلموا على ان أغلبية الشعب جهلة ومغيبين سياسيا ومنقسمين طائفيا؟ احنا بنتكلم نظريا عن النزاهة وعن حرية التعبير وحاجات مثالية كتير، بس الناس بتمارس كل ده على أرض الواقع، ولما باقول الناس قصدي اللجان الشعبية في مناطق كتير في مصر. مش بس في المناطق الشعبية، كمان في المعادي مثلاً. يعني مش موضوع طبقات اجتماعية بالضرورة.

بس مشكلة المناطق الشعبية هي ان صوتها مش مسموع. يعني مثلاً مافيش منهم نشطاء بيظهروا على شاشات التلفزيون، والنشطاء اللي بيطلعوا في التليفزيون أولوياتهم مختلفة، ده غير ان لا شكلهم زيهم ولا بيتكلموا زيهم. واحنا عشان نعدّي المأزق ده لازم نبطل نفترض اننا بنتكلم باسم كل الشعب أو اننا 'بنمثّل' كل الناس، ولازم نفهم ونتقبل ان مصر كبيرة وان مجتمعاتها المختلفة فيها مجموعات بتتكون ممكن تتكلم باسمها وتعبر عنها. احنا كنشطاء لازم نعترف بالمجموعات دي، بغض النظر عن توجهاتها السياسية، ولازم نحضر معاهم اجتماعات، ونخللي مطالبهم ومشاريعهم على رأس أولوياتنا.

ناس كتير وانا منهم قلقانين من الانتخابات البرلمانية الجاية. لكن في مناطق كتير اللجان بطلت تعمل دورات توعية للأهالي لأنهم حاسين ان الموضوع مش جايب همه.. الثورة ما بتحقق لهمش أي عدالة؛ وضعهم ماتغيرش ولا حد بيكلمهم على خطط اقتصادية أو حتى بيدّيهم وعود بالتغيير. بصراحة الأمور بتزداد سوءا وبالنسبة لناس كتير الكلام عن الانتخابات البرلمانية والنظم الليبرالية والاشتراكية والاسلامية بقى كلام غامض ونظري.

بس خلليني أوضّح ان موضوع التمثيل في الاعلام ده سمعت الناس بتشتكي منه بعد الثورة في مارس وابريل. وبيتهيألي ان من وقتها ناس كتير قررت ان طظ في الإعلام اللي هو كده كده مش بيمثلنا. وابتدوا يشتغلوا مع نفسهم وبسرعة. بالنسبة لهم الموضوع مش موضوع كلام في السياسة. انما موضوع حقوق وعدالة. وبيحاولو يفهموا بجد الاقتصاد شغال ازاي وميزانية إيه بتعمل إيه في الدولة والخدمات اللي عايزنها مسئولية مين وبتتكلف كام.

وفيه مناطق كتير رافضة ان يمثلها اسلاميين. لأنهم فاهمين ان الاخوان والجماعات الاسلامية الأخرى لعبت دور مهم في غياب الحكومة وفي غياب خدمات الدولة. بس دلوقت هم عايزين ان خدمات الدولة تشملهم وتشملهم مناطقهم. عايزين يكون ليهم مكان في البلد مش على هامشها. في المقابل لسه فيه محاولات من النظام الحالي (أو فلول النظام السابق) عايزة تقنعهم ان مالهمش صوت، وان أملهم الوحيد في العدالة انهم يقبلوا منح من وزارة الداخلية وياخدوا كام ألف وشوية شقق ويسكتوا. وترجع الأمور لما كانت عليه.

فيه حالة من للغضب والذعر من ان الأمور تنتكس وترجع زي ما كانت. وده غير مقبول بعد الأشواط الطويلة اللي قطعناها. عن نفسي أنا لما باروح المناطق الشعبية واتكلم مع الناس هناك، وبعدين أسمع النشطاء والسياسيين بيتكلموا عن البلطجية والانفلات الأمني والفتنة الطائفية بابقى هتجنن!

ازاي ممكن نبقى بالجهل ده. ازاي نبقى جاهلين كده بشعبنا، وبحاجة الناس للكرامة. ازاي نجهل يعني إيه الواحد يخاطر بكل حاجة عشان الكرامة والعدل و فرصة في الحياة، فرصة في التعليم، بيت فيه مياه وكهرباء ومجتمع في نظام وقانون مهمته انه يخدمك.

في اجتماع اللجان الشعبية كان فيه نقاط أمل كتيرة، زي مثلا الشغل اللي بتقوم بيه اللجنة الشعبية في سانت كاترين في سيناء وازاي ممكن ندعمهم. كما ان بعض اللجان مافيهاش تمثيل كافي للمسيحيين فاتصلوا بالكنائس ، أو راحوا ببساطة يخبطوا على الأبواب لتشجيع المزيد من الناس الى الانضمام عشان يبقى فيه تمثيل للجميع في اللجان. وكان فيه كلام عن ائتلاف لأسر الشهداء بيتشكل حاليا ويتضمن امبابة والمطرية ودار السلام وكرداسة وعدد من أماكن أخرى.

النشطاء والحقوقيين في مصر قعدوا سنين يسألوا: فين الناس؟ الشعب فين؟ كان النشطاء وقتها بيقفوا في احتجاجات عددهم فيها أقل من عدد الأمن المركزي. وبعدين الناس قامت وخلقت ثورة حقيقية. أخيرا بقينا جزء من حاجة قوية غيرت حياتنا كلنا، مش بس على مستوى البلد والتاريخ انما حتى على المستوى الشخصي لكل حد فينا. حسّينا اننا عشنا معجزة. ومع المعجزة بييجي احساس رهيب بالمسئولية. عشان كده لازم نتفق على الأولويات.

نتكلم ازاي عن مجلس الشعب أو الدستور والناس لسه مش حاسين بالأمان في حياتهم اليومية، كرامتهم لسه مهددة، حريتهم لسه مسلوبة، وفوق كل جه بيواجهوا خطر المحاكمات العسكرية.

الثورة اتولدت من الشارع ولسه مستمرة في الشارع. مستمرة في المطالبة بالعدالة الاجتماعية، باننا نكون كلنا واحد قدام المحكمة والعدالة، مستمرة في اللجان الشعبية اللي بيمارس من خلالها السياسة والتمثيل السياسة. ولو مابتديناش نشتغل على ازاي مطلب زي العدالة الاجتماعية يتحقق على أرض الواقع، حتتحول العدالة الاجتماعية لمجرد شعار مش هيفيد حد.

محتاجين نركز مع اللي بيحصل في الشارع ونسيبنا شوية من النظريات السياسية. الشارع فيه وعي وفيه حكمة، والأهم من كده انه فيه الناس. فيه تاريخ البلد وأهلها وفيه الواقع اللي الناس عايشاه. واحنا لازم نختار يا اما نفهم الواقع ده ونتعلم منه ونبني فيه، أو نستمر في تجاهله ونعيش في نظرياتنا وأيديولوجياتنا.

النشطاء في الاسكندرية والسويس بيقولوا ان شغلهم متقدم عن القاهرة لأنهم ما عندهمش "داء الإعلام" وان احنا في القاهرة مشغولين بمين قال إيه ومين بيمثل مين ومين بيتكلم كويس ومين رأيه من رأيي ومين هاختلف معاه، وناسيين المشاكل والاحتياجات الحقيقية للناس اللي عايشة حوالينا. الناس اللي كانت خطوط الدفاع الأولى في أول أيام الثورة ودلوقتي بيتفرجوا على ثورة غريبة عنهم في التليفزيون.

بس الثورة الحقيقية في الشارع. في كل شارع مش بس في التحرير. تعالوا نبطل نسمع الإعلام. نبطل نصنع الإعلام. احنا كشعب "اتقابلنا" في الثورة ومحتاجين دلوقتي نفضل على اتصال. أنا مقتنعة ان أي حل أو هيكلة سياسية هتيجي من فوق محكوم عليها بالفشل، بس لو ابتدينا مع الناس من تحت فيه حاجات مذهلة بتحصل. فيه تنظيمات حكم محلّي ومجموعات الشعبية بتطوّر نفسها وبتجرب أفكار جديدة على أرض الواقع. مجموعات وتنظيمات اتولدت مع الثورة وبتعبّر عنها. لو راقبناها عن قرب وشاركنا فيها أو نقلنا نفس الأفكار كل واحد في منطقته، هنبتدي نفهم حقيقة الحراك السياسي في مصر. ويمكن نتعلم حاجة. هنتعلم حاجة مش هنلاقيها في كتب التاريخ أو النظريات السياسية، لأننا قبل ما نتعلم عن السياسة، هنتعلم حاجات عن نفسنا وعن بعض.

اللي بيحصل في مصر دلوقت فرصة مش هتتكرر تاني في حياة أي حد فينا. بس احنا على شفا موقف خطر لأن يوم بعد يوم غضب الناس بيزيد واستعدادهم للتغاضي عن الظلم بيقلّ. احنا بنعيش لحظة رائعة مليانة إمكانات واحتمالات ما كناش نحلم بيها لأن فيه ناس كتير فعلا مستعدة للحراك والشغل والتغيير. ناس عايزة ديمقراطية حقيقية، عايزين مساءلة وشفافية ومناقشات سياسية وحلول اقتصادية، بس قبل كل ده محتاجين يحسوا انهم أحرار. ان خسائرهم وتضحياتهم متقدرة ومعترف بيها.

انسوا التحرير. انسوا التليفزيون. الثورة في كل شوارع مص

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Imaba is Very angry, As am I.

Last week we went to a mu2tamar sha3bey organized by Imbaba's popular committee (lagna sha3beyya) concerning the trials of police officers who killed protesters in Imbaba on the 29th of January.

There was so much anger in that meeting, that i left more angry than i had gone and have been able to do very little about it.

For starters, i had helped gather a contact list of journalists and producers who me and Ehaab from the lagna contacted about the event, and most people seemed interested bas no one showed up. When i got there i asked Ehaab if any of the journalists we called came and he said "Not one. If we had done this in the journalists's syndicate everyone would have come. Bas seems we have to choose , it's either Imbaba or 'everyone' and we can't keep ignoring Imbaba'.

What was wonderful about the conference was just taht; this was a conference about Imbaba for Imbaba, by Imbaba, and people were invited to come in solidarity and support. Activists and journalists were invited as well as legan sha3beyya from matareyya, kerdasa, dar el salam and other places where the situation is similar. WHere activists have been killed and no one's being held accountable for it.

They invited Aida Seif EL Dawla of El Nadim, and other human rights activists to speak and there was a short debate about whether it is the officers that should be held accountable - since they shot, bas what about the fact that they were taking orders? And how about people higher up in ranks like Mubarak and Adly, who gave the orders, bas may have not known about things. Or how about a whole system that is not at all accountable to people and allowed for this to happen?

This made me furious. I mean is it REALLY that difficult to have a fucking trial where justice is questioned. WHY, 6 months later do we STILL not know who gave the fucking orders to shoot, and what the fuck exactly happened?!

Over and above the fact that the families went to the first court hearing in the beginning of May and found that the officers were not fe affass el eteheaam and the judge adjourned the hearing and left the court-house when he found out 'Imbaba was there' and the families were locked into the court house when they went ballistic; news was out the next day that the families attacked the courthouse adn therefore the session was postponed for a week, AND rumors were spread in Imbaba by dakhleyya and mukhbereen that those killed were actually baltageyya and were killed in teh process of attacking el 2e2saam.

So the lagna sha3beyya produced fliers (of which i have a copy) showing the pictures, age, occupation (in most cases what grade they were in school or university) and where exactly they were shot to prove that these victims were nowhere near the police station. That 15 year old Islam was stepping out of a mosque when he was shot in his back and the bullet exited through his stomach, and that 18 year old Nasser was running back into his building when he was shot in the head, and that 26 year old Mohammed Salah was driving his toktok when he was shot in his chest.

During the conference the families of the martyrs came up to speak. Some spoke of being offered money (150,000 LE) to yetnazlu 3an their cases, others were offered apartments and others a car instead of the toktok. The latter said he told the official that came to make the offer that they weren't interested, that this time they wanted justice and a sustainable system of it. And the officer said 'khalley baalek, el 7aye7besuna dul 7abasuna aslan'

There was talk by activists calling on the families of imbaba to support each other so they don't have to relent and accept musal7aat by police oR WORSE in some cases people were being threatened if they didn't let go of el adeyya. Just like the popular committee was threatened when they decided to hold this conference and activists that wanted to hold a nadwa to discuss the sectarian violence were threatened by a police officer.. you can't have such a nadwa without tasri7 from mudereyet amn el giza. In short they don't want sectarian issues to be solved.

So no one has any place to talk about sectarian violence and salafeyeen without first visiting the scene of the crime and finding out WHAT exactly happened.

After the many stories people started to talk about what's to be ne next. Lawyers warned that justice will never be served through courts alone, that people needed to rally and mobilize and camp before the police stations. that they needed to go to mudereyeeat amn el giza.

Bas Ahaaley Imbaba spoke differently. They said that their revolution was against the police force, why is the police still where it is in the hierarchy of power, and why are they still subject to its abuse?! Is it because they weren't violent enough? Than in the next revolution there will be blood.

Are laws and 'justice' only applicable to people like us. Is justice only taken through when it comes to arresting baltageyya from Imbaba??

THey will give justice and the courts one more chance before they take matters into their own hands. THey didn't rise up and sacrifice their own lives and the lives of their children for things to stay exactly the same.

One man spoke up and said "El thawra mesh fel tahrir". How many of the (according to Aida Seif El Dawla) 1,100 people that died were from tahrir? And how many were from el manate2 el sha3beyya that surrounded it...

My personal anger stems from the fact that the revolution has continued so beautifully through el legan el sah3beyya that have struggled and continue to struggle to practice politics in their areas, to demand social justice, to work on political and social awareness, and try to ensure that their people are represented, that refuse to take any funds to make sure they are credibel and accountable to their people; and the extent to which they are ignored. How many activists are supporting hte work being done in Imbaba and Shubra and 7adaye2 el qubba and boulaq?

WORST yet, how many activists talk about how ignorant people are, and how politically unaware and how sectarian?! Activists talk about political integrity and freedom of speech and ideals of this and that, bas people are practicing this on the ground and by 'people' i mean legaan sha3beyya in populous areas as well as teh lagna sha3beyya in Maadi for instance. It's not a matter of social class necessarily.

Bas the problem with el manate2 el sha3beyya is that they are highly under-represented. Activists that appear on tv, don't look like them, don't act like them, don't speak like them, and when they talk about priorities they don't seem to include them at all. WE HAVE to get past htis impasse where we believe we 'represent' people and accept that EGYPT Is huge and that somehow these communities have grown to develop representative groups that can speak in all their names. These groups, regardless of their political orientations have to be in all our meetings and we NEED to prioritize being in their events and attempts.

Lots of people are worried about upcoming parliamentary elections and so am i. But for some areas, the legaan are no longer preparing awareness sessions because people are loosing interest.. they are not receiving any justice from the revolution; their situation hasn't changed, they are not receiving any economic plans or promises, and frankly things are looking bleak. talk of parliamentary elections and liberal and socialist and islamist systems and economies is becoming vague and theoretical.

THe revolution is unraveling into something that belongs to people on twitter and facebook and nice pristine samples that appear on tv and use terminologies in different languages, and those that died for this revolution believing it would make a difference in their lives are ignored.

To be honest, this issue of media representation is one that's been complained about a lot since the revolution; say in March and April. I think since, people have decided you know what fuck the media, it doesn't represent us anyway, bas they are FAST at work. For them it isn't about talk or politics, it's about working hard and quickly to establish a precedence of justice and system of political representation, and find a way to understand how things operate economically and what budgets exist where in the state to make sure they are served and served well.

For that very reason some areas are refuting Islamist representation. They know the MB and other islamists played the role of an absent government and right now they want to be integrated. But what the state is trying to establish at the moment, is that hey are still unheard, that their best bet at justice is to accept what the ministry of interior is trying to dish out of money and property and that things will go back to what htey have been.

There is a growing anger and trembling panic in these areas. That things will relapse into what they were, which is now unacceptable given how far they come. And frankly being there and then hearing activists talk about baltageyya and infelatt amney and sectarian strife drives me crazy.

I am astounded at how ignorant ignorant ignorant we can be. How ignorant of our people, how ignorant of this need for dignity, how ignorant of what it means to risk everything for a life of dignity and justice and at the possibility of just standing a chance at LIVING, at the possibility of an education, at the possibility of water and electricity and a legal system taht serves you.

Yesterday in a meeting networking popular committees, there were a number of inspiring issues raised like the work being done by a popular committee in St Katherine in Sinai and how it can be supported, and how some legan feel there is an under-representation fo christians, and have approached churches, or simply gone around knocking on doors to encourage more people to join so they feel they are equally representative. ANd then there was teh talk of a coalition of the families of the martyrs that was developing. Including Imbaba, Matareyya, Dar EL Salam, Kerdasa and a number of other places.

None of these areas have seen or received any promise of trials or accountability and feel they are slowly sinking on the list of national opportunities and the discussion went something like this. What can we do that is really really drastic that will stop the flow in the country so the media can come, or the army can come, and listen to what we're going through.

And they were really trying to think of something that would be drastic enough for immediate attention and yet not cause too much harm to everyday people. When someone suggest they go to tahrir, most of us smirked and sniggered. And i realized then and there that tahrir has become a space for a different struggle. A struggle that's about political integrity or a political rhetoric that is devoid somehow of REAL justice and REAL politics, that of our every day lives.

For YEARS activists asked 'feyn el naas' we 'feyn el shaab' when we were in protests that were highly outnumbered by state security. We ba3deyn el naas gat we tel3t we aamet, they graced the revolution, and they made something real and powerful and wonderful and unforgettable of it. And by real and powerful i mean on the level of our personal lives, as well as that of the history of movements.

Bas this was a POPULAR revolution; there is something miraculous to that, bas there is also a HUGE sense of responsibility towards it to. Our priorities have to develop with consensus.

It's impossible to talk about parliament or constitution when people do not have security in tehri day to day lives, when their dignity is being threatened again and when they are being held with a knife at their throats. Not to mention when they are at a risk for military trials.

This revolution was born out of street politic, and there it continues. It is in our demands for social justice; that we are all one in the eyes of court and justice and legality; it is in teh birht of popular committees that are practicing politics and representation, not because they are ambitious, bas because that is how political orders seem to develop organically and that is what there is a need for; proper representation in all of these areas.

We really need to pay attention to what is REALLY happening on the streets and what there is a need and demand for. Let go of political theories and demands and idea and structures for how things should flow ideally. There is a wisdom and consciousness in the streets, adn more yet, in the streets there is US. There is a history of what this country is, there is a population, there is a reality, we somehow choose to continue to ignore as we pursue the political ideals taht our thoughts and ideologies dictate to us.

This is a very very angry rant, and my hands are really shaking as i try to type this, and i wish i could have somehow found the peace sometime since Imabab's meeting last thursday to address teh constructive points we need to consider, and how we need to move.

We nee to support the efforts of el legaan el sha3beyya; we need to mobilize citizen media not only for protests bas to document what's happening in these areas; we need to listen to eh families of the martyrs and those arrested by the army because these are the people that were suffering before the revolution and who continue o suffer most after it. If they don't receive justice, tahn social justice will continue to be a theoretical term that will serve none of us.

We are at this incredibally powerful moment with incredible potential where people WANT to act, they want everything that is ideal and democratic, they want accountability and transparency they want to discuss politics they NEED TO HEAR ABOUT ECONOMICs.. bas do to that they need to sense that they are free.

And just as we as activists are proud to be able to say that this is a populous revolution and there was an almost historical record of 'people' being part of it, we need to be more than smug about it. 'People' came out for something, they need to acknowledge that they are part of this struggle; they need to acknowledge that their losses are appreciated and considered.

Activists in Alexandria and Suez, say they are always much more advanced than cairo because we have 'da2 el 2e3lam' we are so obsessed with who comes out on tv and who says what to represent whom and being articulate that we completely miss out on what is going on on the ground and in the lives of people that surround us. At the beginning of the revolution this was said with bitterness, because infact, they were barely represented at ALL on the media, even though they were the first and second lines of defense, but as they watch cairo degenerate into a hollywood revolution with glamorous stars and TV talk, they deem it irrelevant at times, adn at others, at times when they realize that Cairo is highly symbolic they wonder if they have lost the revolution to all the Waels and Shadis of this country.

This revolution is in the streets. It's in every street. Let's stop listening to the media, and make the media. We met a 'people' in tahrir we NEED to keep in touch. I personally find that we are doomed whichever way we look at structural politics from above; bas from below, there is something wonderful happening. There are many local and popular governance systems that are developing and experimenting with themselves and their constituencies. They are a metaphor for this revolution and they have grown out of it, if we pay close attention to them, and work on forming or participating in the forms of governance that are developing in our own neighbourhoods we will really understand the dynamics of politic in this country, and there's a chance we will learn something.

We will learn something that we will never learn from the history of politics or revolutions, or Gene zift, or all the books on political history and theory, and ideology. Because before we learn something about politics, we will learn something about ourselves.

There is SUCH an opportunity in all that is happening. Bas we verge on a very very sensitive point, where anger is mounting, people's tolerance for injustice is thinning by the day. Forget tahrir, forget tv, hit the streets.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Revolting and thereafter...

This is that quote i've been (mis)quoting over the last few months! Finally made the effort to pull it out. It's in answer to this question of 'bas not everyone came out during the revolution'. Ten million is one in every 8 people. THat's more than ten percent, and in the history of world revolutions is actually a record.

It's from my all time favorite books on revolutions; "The Unthinkable revolution in Iran" - he talks about the revolution and analyzes it all the while indicating that the whole idea of a revolution is that it is about change and change is often unthinkbale, bas the efforts social sciences make to explain or deem it predictable in retrospect, takes away much of what the revolution was about, or was acheiving.

I highly recommend it as a read for understanding revolutions; bas more so, if you're worried ours may be reminiscent of Iran's in 1979. You will get this perhaps from many books you read about Iran, bas the way he describes its 'unthinkablity' and how it encroached and explded is similar, bas the prime difference (and how this revolution sort of redefines 'popular' revolutions) is the role Khomeini, and his speeches and tapes played. We did not have that sort of centre, this sort of figure who pulled us through. My gosh, we did not even have the luxury of being able to communicate! Not to mention it was growing and developing and building on shiism as it grew..

We just have those who want to ride it,and our own deamons that we're struggling to shake off.

That said, i do not discount or underestimate any risks; it is rare in the history of revolutions (or those i had read/studied) that those who pulled it through, pulled it off. And that's what we see, more in Sawiris and the many bubbling political parties that are not at all researching or considering the needs of the people; more than 7atta what we see of islamists - who albeit organized, do not have an agenda, and are making fools of themselves. People were loyal to them because they did what a non-existant government failed to offer, bas now people want a government, they want resources and they want to be incorporated in a budget and plan, and not as they were before, forgotten. They don't want the alternative.

Somehow however, i remain (deeply) optimistic :)

I read this book for the first time 6 years ago and find in every sentence, pause, foot and side-note, how far we've come :D We have a really long way to go, bas at least now, we have a say in it :)

" Indeed the Iranian Revolution was one of the most popular upheavals in world history; 10 percent or more of the Iranian population participated in the demonstrations and general strike that toppled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. By comparison, less than 2 percent of the population participated in the overthrow of Soviet Communism.

....We can only guess teh future. We cannot know how people will act in a situation of confusion until it is upon them. Massive change cannot be known in advance, but only as it is happening. Widespread knowledge is part of the change itself. People sense that something big is occurring , and their responses help shape the event.

This conclusion may sound abstract, but it has real political consequences. If we want to change the world - and who doesn't? -- then we are marching boldly toward a stituation of confusion, the moment when old patterns begin to be disrupted and new ones take their place. For change as significant as a revolution , we cannot know in advance who will cling to the old ways and who will embrace the new. All that remains is to pursue the goal for its own sake, because we consider it the right thing to do. All we can do is try to make the unthinkable, thinkable." Charles Kurzman - The Unthinkable Revolution In Iran; viii-ix"

The genius of his book is he talks about how every revolution must be read in its own right, that we cannot pretend to have been able to predict it, nor can we explain it using others, it resists explanations. Namely because people could not have predicted their own actions (i'll bet we can all think of quite a few we would not have predicted ) and thus naturally, they could not have predicted the actions of those around them.

Revolutions break the rules, and patterns, and most essentially they break our patterns of change. For even 'change' is an idea that we are conditioned to believe happens in a particular way. He traces through interviewing many people who were involved in the revolution that moment of 'unthinkability' when is that moment that you believed something was absolutely impossible and it happened. Not because you wanted it to or believed it might, but because you did something you never believed you could or would do, and things were never the same.

We all say there is much we need to unlearn; and although we make lists of all we need to 'unlearn' i don't think we can imagine that. Because with every idea or concept we do unlearn we are left barren, without our anchors of logic; light-headed without teh weight of our judgement; and disoriented without the light-house of our values and concepts and learned ideas be they social or political.

We will all fumble, sometimes together, and it will be confusing but we will feel part of each others regiments and know we will be fine; and sometimes alone, at night in our beds, as our heart paces to the sound of gunshots, or to the sound of our own pacing hearts at the thought of a life less predictable or secured. But had we not fumbled this far, this explosion of possibilities; those fleeting moments be they rare or fleeting when we imagine that what we dream realy matters, what we've wished for is relevant, that our hopes and dreams are not private, bu they are shared and they are external adn fee e7temaal, akheeran fe e7temaal enuhum yet7a2a2uh.

And that is because ultimately ultimately ultimately; in dodging a bullet, in standing fort, in running for your life, in leaving home with all the risks in mind, in chanting at the top of your lungs, in dreaming, in feeling part of a larger whole, and in hoping, we have this sense of unquestionable ownership. El balad beta3etna. Finally finally its yours. You are not of it and from it because you were born to it, but because you believed it worth the fight. And the fight only started on the 11th of February.

I was interviewing Amina Shafiq, a communist activist and inspiring activist of 1956 in Port-said and much thereafter, and after recounting the details of '56 as a very eventful year (after, i must say a growing anti-nasserist sentiment that had developed after '54 for his outsing Naguib), she trailed off at one point and said; "Enty 3arfa, fe ra2yey.. el 3aash el fatra dee...3ash kwayes".

i think she meant, despite her own critiques of the politics of that period; the fulfillment of having hoped.

My supervisor at some ambiguous moment in the revolution, said something firm, yet somehow reassuring that no matter what happens, doing what you think is right, against all odds is good for your integrity.

At that moment, i felt it was a great quote to use with my children, but could nto grasp its relevance in our chaos and uncertainty. Bas now i do. Somehow in all our hope, and i don't think we've ever hoped as individually or collectively as we did in tahrir, there's alot of goodness in all of us, that for those brief moments externalized, adn took us all in. We became part of something larger and good.

At times when things look possibly dark, i feel like whatever happens, being there in those moments, re-assured some 'good' part in all of us, or even brought it out, or told it it DOES have a place in this world. Akid, it is more likely to resurface for the rest of our lives, than it was before those days of intense group therapy and humanization :)

But all said, adn regardless of what happens at every point; we will stay true to our hopes and dreams, and we will give it everything we've got. And somehow , for better or for worse, we will have lived through this. And thus, we will have lived well.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ليه نازلين يوم ٢٧

حوار مع سائق تاكسي (سائق من سنة ستين) بعد صمت طول الطريق:ء

أنا: نزلني هنا لوسمحت

الحج مصري: هنا هنا ولا حتعدي الشارع

أنا: حعدي الشارع بس مش مشكلة، نزلني هنا

الحج مصري وهو مصمم يلف: أبداً! وده معقول؟ أسيب شباب الثثوورة يعدي الشارع لوحده بعد كل العملهلنا؟!تقعدي في الشارع بالأيام والليالي وأسيبك تعدي الشارع؟

--سيل من الدعوات المتبادلة--

الحج مصري: قوليلي، أنا سامع إن إحنا نازلين يوم ٢٧، ده صحيح؟

أنا :صحيح!ء

حج مصري: كويس، صح كده! عشان التباطؤ في العدل وحش، والوضع الأمني بقى صعب أوي. هشوفك هنااك، هه؟ أنا نازل طبعاً، ، حكم أنا الحج مصري، والإسم على مسمى! ء


أنا هنزل يوم الجمعة عشان الشعب والشعب لازم يبقو إيد واحدة والجيش إيده ثقلت

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's Happening? How can i join? إيه الممكن أعمله اليومين دول، ومين محتاج مساعدة؟

These are a few of the initiatives i've been involved with. Please circulate and add your own, so more of us are exposed to existing groups and initiatives, can pitch in, and don't re-invent wheels and carettas :)

رداً على أسئلة "أنا ممكن أساعد إزاي"، دي بعض المبادرات العامة والمفتوحة اللي إشتغلت معاها أو سمعت عنها. يا ريت الإضافة والنشر. اللينكس والويب سايتس والمدونات المرفقة كلها بالعربي

I think priorities now are that we (beyond our own interest groups and limited circles) work together to unify our visions as to what to work on next; how we want the parliamentary elections to happen and how we want the constitution to be written, and naturally, mobilize.

Most events and workshops are today, tomorrow and Friday, so please note event times in Bold and Italics.

Please also add initiatives you know of that are interesting or need assistance, and let's spread the love :)

يعيش أهل بلدي وبينهم مفيش تعارف يخللي التحالف يعيش....يعيش يعيش يعيش"أحمد فؤاد نجم"

والله الموفق والمستعان، عليا

1. Working Groups - Politics, Policy and Awareness

Al Rabeta; Shabab Al Thawra Al taqadumy -- الرابطة... شباب الثورة التقدمي

these are a number of academics and activists that have formed a group that is something between a think tank, and a 'working group', and they meet on Saturdays ta2riban. At the moment they are working on planning what hte next steps are adn developing a database of NGOs that will help raise awareness about parliamentary candidates when the time comes. THey had a meeting earlier this monday and was about developing anti-sectarianism working groups.

addition by Amr on political activities;

وبالإضافة للي مكتوب. شغلنا له جانب سياسي له علاقة بالضغط لتحقيق مطالب الثورة وبناء دولة مدنية ديمقراطية تسمح بالسقف الأعلى من الحريات والحقوق ...السياسية والاجتماعية

In 30 Haroun Street, El Dokki. Development Support Centre.


The Development Support Centre-- مركز دعم التنمية is an NGO that works with grassroots and is aiming to focus on develop a training manual and trianing youth from el legan el sha3beyya in different mu7afzat. If you have heard of Hala and Hani Shukrallah and Mona Abaza; they are the main people in this group. They are meeting this Thursday at 5:00 with legan sha3beyya to see what the youth in these areas need and what htey can offer.

Next meeting thursday at 5:00 pm -- 30 Haroun street, Dokki (near midan el mesa7a, behind seoudi)

he DSC also hosts a group called 'thawret el lotus - who are a very dynamic working group adn did amazing work in mobilizing people, and distributing fliers during the referedum.

their next meeting is on Friday the 25th at 5:00, and is going to be around watching a movie about how to change ideas and information into action.

"ten ways to change ideas into action"!/event.php?eid=198367810183238


Campaign against Military arrests, torture and tribunals-- A group that is currently working on a campaign to stop the army from arresting and torturing peaceful protestors. They want to start with things like a website with testimonies, and a smart campaign that doesn't denounce the army directly, bas helps keep it accountable , so we don't have another ministry of interior on our hands. Also create an emergency response group once someone is arrested, so mumken nel7a2hum before they are accused of being baltageyya or tried through a military tribunal. And helping innocent people like Amr Abdallah that have already been tried and sentenced get out. Especially that the way the army is operating now, makes the streets an impossible place to protest which is really dangerous. We need to keep the streets as a space for pressure if need be. Let me know if you want to be added to the egroup, bas it's a very dense one, so i suggst you attend the mtng first then decide.

contact: "منى" ,

Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, 1 souq el tawfeqeyya street off the 26th of July street, downtown.


Al Gabha Al Qawmeyya lel 3adallah wal democrateyya -- A new group that is supposed to link different groups, parties and NGOs that work with communities together to try to mobilize bas also unify our vision. Here's a link that describes what they plan to do, and you can email them through this.

First Event: Thursday at 8:00 pm downtown.!/note.php?note_id=10150214523133135

You can contact them here and ask more questions and even apply :


Civil Society to Monitor the Egyptian Parliament: A new group to monitor the Egyptian parliament when it's formed and hold it accountable. You can contact them at: or find them at the facebook group:!/home.php?sk=group_170158549697964

صوتي لبلدي -- Soty Lebalady : An organization that provides awareness sessions as well as materials for raising awareness on parliamentary elections, particularly against vote buying.

Sa7wa -- صحوة: This seems to be another working group/movement/think tank-ish group whith lots of committees. And invites volunteers for ameeting from 6-9 this Friday fe gahmra , kuleyet Ramesis el banaat.!/Al.Sahwa.Movement

Shadow Youth Cabinet: This is mainly a facebook group that brings forth all the different ministries for people to take apart, and encourages the devlopment of a shadow ministry, wehre policies are reconsidered, and structure is studied and researched etc. The idea behind it is that active shadow ministires are created so that ministires are always held accountable for their work and policies. I think this is really really important, bas the group needs to be mobilized and moderated. So far only a few of the ministries are very active.

It was started up by the Shadow Minister of Housing, who had been active (followed by the government as well as international organizations) for hte last two years;

Madd -- مدّ : Specific interest group, looking at policies related to urban planning/urbanism and architecture as well as social issues related to public space and slums etc.!/home.php?sk=group_132012390202654

اللجان الشعبية للدفاع عن الثورة المصرية

Youth committees in different areas, working on security, awareness and political activity in those areas.

يد واحدة -- شباب من أجل التنمية

Eed Wa7da -- Youth for Development

Working group of many committees, meet on Friday's 3-6 in Saqiet el Sawi.

For more info , contact:!/pages/Eed-Wa7da/202822159734599?sk=info

Waqfeyat al Maadi al Ahleya -- مؤسسة وقفية المعادي الأهلية

This community foundation is working with families of the martyrs on issues related to their legal rights as well as social and financial support. They need volunteers.

تعمل مؤسسة وقفية المعادي الأهلية مع أهلي شهداء ثورة ٢٥ يناير لتحقيق مطالبهم و مطالب الثورة المجيده في المحاكمة السريعة لقتلة شبابنا الأبرار و تميز أهالي الشهداء و إعطائهم حقوقهم المشروعة. و تتعاون الوقفية مع نيابة جنوب و التي تسهل أوراق الشهداء بتوصية من النائب العام بعد التظاهر السلمي أمام مكتبه و الاتفاق مع نائب رئيس نيابة جنوب على الإسراع في المحاكمات؛ كما تعمل وقفية المعادي مع أهالي الشهداء على فتح باب للرزق من خلال مشروعات صغيره لأسر الشهداء اللذين فقدوا عائلهم الوحيد و عمل وقفييات في شكل شهادات استثمار لأولادهم أو أسرهم و تتعاون مع المغربي للعيون لتحويل كل حالات الإصابة بالعيون لأبناء الثورة و إجراء كل العمليات مجانا.

للتطوع و المساعدة نرجو الاتصال بوقفية المعادي من خلال كتابة إيميل إلى مروة الدالي على أو الاتصال بمحمود إبراهيم على ٠١٧٥٨٣٣٤٣٥ و ٢٥٢٧٢٤٤٥!/group.php?gid=13309356718

2. Events

Gosour -- Is an interesting looking NGO, and they are working on developing the "Cairo Debates" regular debates that discuss important issues. There is one today on "What Next" and includes someone from el ikhwan, el wasat, el 2e2telaf (mainly zyad el eleimy) and Amr El Shobaky whose a political analyst; see here.

Next Event Today (Wednesday) , On Pharoahs boat infront of four seasons at 6:30 - 9:30!/event.php?eid=206156892744566

E7tegag/Thawret el lotus

group described above: Movie ; Ten ways to change ideas into action ;

Friday at 5:00 at the Development support centre (above)!/event.php?eid=198367810183238

Lagna sha3beyya in Boula2 : Group of youth from Boulaq Are being trained by Jan 25 actvists on aspects of the revolution and discussing 'what next'.

Friday at 2:00 pm, Share3 el sa7afah, infrong of super jet stop, midan el sheikh farag.

Lagna sha3beyya in 7adaye2 el qubba: Group of youth from 7adaye2 el qubba, Are being trained by proffessors on 'what is liberalism , what is secularism' etc.

Friday at 6:00 pm (i'm going let me know if you're interested)


3. Websites to connect people and events،can help keep you up to date

i was in a meeting for all websites, bas only took contacts and info of a few, once someone sends the minutes and full contact list i'll share.

مصر دولة مدتية --خريطة المبادرات المختلفة واجان الشعبية الفعالة حسب المنطقة

Map of initiatives by area

El-Midan -- Supposed to link activists together ;

Mobadarat Thawreyya - a website group i'm part of despserately trying to put together a portal that keeps up to date initiatives like the ones above, bas acrss mu7afzat so we all have an idea what's happening where at any given time. If you would like to volunteer to putting an arabic portal together let me know. -- A website that is being developed to keep people up to date with the events that are going on. They are sitll working on it i think. They are under and they can be contacted at -- Am not sure how it is spelt exactly bas they are trying to network between people who want to volunteer for charity and development, and initiatives and NGOs and organizations taht are trying to help people.

Or you can contact ; i think her name is Myriam. Zyad Ali who is trying to link Egyptians abroad with certain skills to initiatives here in Cairo and help them be useful; this is his email ;

He may also be working on a TV Channel

4. Media .(There is a DIRE need for forms of media until we can purge mainstream media ; el ahram and channel one and two of lies)

Radio Tahrir;!/group.php?gid=4689155815

Ibrahim Eissa is preparing to launch a tv channel bas i don't know much about that yet.

I could get you contacts if you think you can contribute with ideas or content, or funding.

Two main ones on the scene that i know of;

5. Political Parties

The Egyptian Social Democratic Pary

Made of prominent figures such as Mohammed Abolghar (leftist activist and academic at cairo u), Samer Soliman (leftist activist, academic at AUC), Ehaab El Kharaat (Psychologist, activist and one of the few people who spoke openly pro the revolution in churches during the events), Dawood abdelsayed, Director, and Sally Thoma and Ziad El Eleimy of 2e2telaaf.

The party's founding meeting was last thursday and they are now developing working groups. They are middle left with a mix of Leftist and liberal values.


There is a liberal Party with leftist values that is being found by Amr Hamzawy and helped by Shahir Ishaq. You can keep in touch with Noha Bashir for any info.


There is a Green/Envirnomental party ; ta7t al ta2sis. Aims to work as lobby for green/envirnomental issues. Meeting Next Wednesday 30th of March. For more details , contact;

Naguib Sawiris just established a 'liberal/secular' party today (31st of March) called Masr el Haditha. Values seem to be more Liberal, ideology more Capitalist, but it's still forming.

حزب التحالف الشعبي -- Popular Alliance Party : More details here. للمزيد:

6. Art and peformance Groups - performers and performances related to the revolution, also trying to mobilize emotions and wills

Iskenderella of Cairo --They have been singing Imam and Negm and Dawrish songs for years, and most of them are activists. They have a performance fel

Opera, on thursday at 7:00 - THIS EVENT IS OVER.!/event.php?eid=197054360327812

Eskenderella of Alexandria -- They hold a series of events on an annual basis under the name 'Zorouny kul sanna mara' this year they will be talking about personal experiences of the revolution as well as poetry adn song.

It will be in Alex, from THursday teh 25th of March, till wednesday the 30th of March!/event.php?eid=190246307677398

El Warsha -- A theatre troupe, performing songs, skits, and narratives of experiences of the revolution by activists, and families or martyrs etc.

. 17 Sherif street, downtown THURSDAY THE 31ST OF MARCH , from 8-10!/event.php?eid=162731880447598

New Street theatre troupe. A new theatre troupe (that is an off-shoot of rabetat shabab we shabat al thawra); idea is to perform skits related bardo to political issues in public spaces. They had their first workshop/meeting this last Sunday (the 2oth of March) bas if you're interested to join, help or attend workshops, please contact;

Al Mastaba - A group of performers from Port Said and Suez and Ismaeleyya, who perform music and songs, particularly resistance once men ayaam '56 and '67, now they've also added, reovlutionary songs that were made up during this period to them.a, Abdin.

El Tanboura Hall: 30 A El Balaqsa Str. Abidin- Downtown - Cairo, for more information, please call 010 3171 76


7. Documenting the Revolution

18 Days In Egypt: A 'crowd-sourcing, crowd-curation' project, and you can contact Ahmed El Laithy (in the comments below) for more details.

Archiving the Revolution: A board developed by Khaled Fahmy of AUC to document and archive videos, pictures and stories of the Revolution and eventually make them accessible in the National Archives. Could contact @أحمد غربية for more details:

The University in the Square: AUC project to document the revolution.

Cultnat initiative to document the revolution, Contact

مركز توثيق التراث يوثق البيانات الرقمية المتعلقة بالثورة

I am #Jan25 Archive of pictures and videos of January 25 revoluion

أرشيف صور وفيديوهات ثورة يناير

مصر تتذكر -- Egypt Remembers

أرشيف شهداء ثورة يناير

Remembering 25th of January Martyrs

Friday, March 18, 2011

A note on Tarek Abdellatif's death - after missing for 6 weeks. By Ahmed Ameen, his cousin

The hardest part of a story to write is always the end. The writer sits and wonders how best to phrase their final words and touch the audience that is to read their story. The hardest ending to a story of all is when you’re talking about the end of someone’s story: their life. Harder still is to write about the violent end to a life. Words cease to become adequate. These words are about the end of one man’s life. A man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for expressing his desire of change like any human has the right to.

This man was Tarek Abdelatif Mohamed AlAktash.

Tarek was 36-years-old. He was happily married with kids and had a wonderful job and a loving family. He lived his life according to his faith and values and always lent a helping hand when needed. He was a man you could lean on in difficult times and a man you could rely on to make you feel better when you were sad. He had no political leanings to the left or right and was not affiliated with any political party, much like countless others living in Egypt prior to the events that began on January 25th 2011. On January 28th, Tarek, along with millions of others in Egypt, took to the streets to express his want of a new governmental system and for change from the 30-year rule of one man and his cronies. Late in the morning he marched towards Tahrir Square to shout out his longing and yearning. He was full of life and vibrantly participating in a revolution, but devastatingly, by eleven p.m. that night, Tarek was dead. Later, it was to be revealed that he was shot in the neck by a 4mm bullet that severed his arteries, killing him instantly. However, Tarek’s story was not over.

By the morning of January 29th, Tarek’s wife had alerted his brothers and family members that Tarek had not come home the night before. Worry hadn’t fully set in for them all yet because during that time, cell phone service had been shut off inside Egypt so it was assumed Tarek had spent the night in Tahrir Square. By the morning of January30th, with no sign of Tarek and no contact from him, his family and friends began to mount a search for him by looking for him in the local hospitals, expecting that he had been injured. Their search led them to the French Qasr Al-Ainy hospital where they were told that all the injured and deceased they had treated and received had been identified and that Tarek was not one of them. Needless to say, relief was the prevalent emotion, but its close companions were worry and the beginnings of fear. If Tarek wasn’t there, where was he?

The next chapter in the story spans almost a month and a half. From January 28th to March 9th, Tarek became one of the most searched for people in Egypt. His story was on local and international news stations. Prominent journalists in Egypt spoke of him on their TV programs. They even had contacts within the military and state security that they exhausted day and night asking about him and his whereabouts. The answers they were given by these governmental entities were conflicting and vague at best. Some claimed Tarek was being held as a prisoner and others said they did not where he was. As the days went by, the hopes of finding Tarek dwindled. Tarek’s wife and family left no stone unturned in the search for him. They became frantic, almost obsessive when looking for him. They knew that every day that passed with no Tarek meant that the likelihood of his wellbeing was jeopardized. The trips to the morgues and hospitals became more frequent and the calls to the military slowly ceased. Tarek’s family could do no more in their search for him. All they could do was pray and hope for a miracle.

On March 9th, Tarek’s brothers received a phone call from a stranger telling them that they knew of Tarek’s whereabouts. When asked where, the man on the phone told them his body was at a morgue. The jarring news hit hard. No one had fully expected that Tarek had died but rather, that he was being held prisoner in an undisclosed location. Tarek’s brothers rushed to the morgue and it was there that the ending to his story was written.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What this revolution has made of us; A people

And on the occassion of my first cup of coffee in weeks, and my resolve to be optimistic for the next few hours and before the first meeting of the day, i shall reflect :)

( i meant for this to be a reflection of things we went through as a movement, bas it turned out to be a bit more personal. still they're experiences we can all relate to; let's stop for a minute, stock up on positivity and possibility and move forward!)

-- on fear

Thursday night and as we tried to sleep, shivering slightly from the excitement and possibilities of the next day, and the rushed phonecalls and excited whispers of the entire day before (not to mention the pdf document that circulated with our first ever written plan 'how to protest in style'), the phone rang. At the other end was the shrunken voice, of an already small voiced Maysoon from Alexandria. We had spoken earlier and she promised to send the plan for protest sites late into the night, as soon as she knew of them, so i knew where to head when i got there. "el internet et2ata3et...e7temaal ye2fulu bawabaat el qaherra weskendereyya, wel telephone 7aye2ta3 2urayeb awey..". her voice was a mixture of steel resolve and fragile fear; 'matter of factness' - tab ma we all knew the phone lines would go down - but also a latent shared, prounounced albeit tiny running stream of terror. We stayed silent on the phone and i can't remember how long it was, i didn't want to close yet, and i felt she didn't either - and our relationship was only one very short phone-call deep, although perhaps connected by a similar fate.

'tayeb..rabenna ma3ana' was all i could muster and 'khudy balek men nafsek' was all she could. She couldn't tell me where the protests would be, bas assured me they would be everywhere. I assured her, i would find everywhere easily. I shut the phone, and felt terrified. I knew tomorrow would be big, bas had no idea what the extent of violence would be, or how ugly it would get before the light broke through. I knew for certain the arrests would start in a few hours (it was already one am) but i didn't know how far they would stretch. Would it just be leadership figures, would they arrest as many activsts as possible, would there be enough spaces in the prisons?

I couldn't sleep. I called nihal in the states, adn sarah in switzerland, asking them to lobby and protest as much as they could about internet cuts. But that wasn't why i called, i just needed to talk to someone outside or somehow hoped they wouldn't forget. I pretended i couldn't talk for long because i couldn't stop my voice from shaking, i didn't know what i wanted to ask them, but like the phonecall with maysoon i didn't want to close quickly. I got up, and barricaded the door with our make-shift dining table, i checked and planned an escape route from our balconies, noting possible foot-holds and rehearsing various leaps.

This is all funny now, because i'm not a really hard-core activist; they would certainly have more important people to consider, bas the fear i felt, much like the fear i felt on tuesday was just so large. it was larger than dying or the fear of falling, or even the fear of being arrested. hope is something we felt in such large large, larger than life proportions and the fact that that might die was scarier than anything you can imagine. it threatens all of you keda.

But morning did come, and despite my waking yahia up every other hour to check why the dogs were barking and who the doorman was arguing with, and what that clang was, and despite his oscillating between soothing and making fun of me, the sun miraculously came up and the day broke through.

Cairo and Alex were like the morning of any day or planned protest - 'normal'. people strolled from one place to another, or lazed and basked in friday morning-light. All was as it would be anyday, as it would be any friday. Our pick for 'everywhere' in Alex was sidi bishr. there were a few peopel lingering around before the prayer and i spoke to a few of them to check that something was really happening there. And right after the khutba and prayer, three people stepped out and one called out 'ya ahalina ya ahaline; dummu 3aleyna ya ahalina..' - they turned to tens, then hundreds, then hundreds of hundreds in less than minutes.

In two hours the war between amn el markazy with their trucks, and their tear-gas and their rubber (and live?) bullets ensued, against the protestors with their stones, adn their 'throwing tear-gas back' tactics. There was also the very Alexandrian tactics of the families throwing plastic-water bottle bombs from their windows and balconies while chanting 'ya 7kuma ya weskha (clap clap clap clap); ya 7kuma ya weskha' clap clap clap clap; between one water bottle and the other. At this they were also shot at with teargas. And for some reason teh teargas felt much more intense than tuesday.

Throughout there was teh absolutely breathtaking sight to behold (we had clambered unto a roof) of people disspitating and dissappearing into side-streets, and thousands upon thousands rippling in slowly and magnificently from a perpendicular street, or from behind the markazy. Those are sights i will never forget.

Nor the cheer and elation when the amn el markazy retreated shouting in a microphone 'khalas ya shabab, khalas e7na benetraga3 ahuh.. khalas ya shabab'.

And i will certainly never forget the sensation as teh crowds poured unto the corniche, and the two wide lanes filled with people, and the wave upon wave of people that joined the march from every intersecting street we passed. One protest after another emerged victoriously from its neighbourhood and unto the corniche. this could have never ever been planned. We were a sea of people, in hundreds of thousands, flowing directly by the sea, with as much energy, force and musicality. I promised myself to remember that sensation, that very sensation of stregnth everytime a sort of fear gripped me.

On tuesday everytime the tear-gas canisters started or rubber bullets were fired, i was gripped with a fear that made my knees so weak and hard as i tried, i could not find that memory or notion in my head that would comfort me. It was only after that very last raid of incessant tear-gas when we thought we would die adn realized we didn't that you learn that tear-gas doesn't at all, kill you, infact it literaly makes you stronger :) And the notion and idea of a death amongsty so many brave seems less and less daunting

I'm sure each of us have that memory of fear breaking, and a sort of synchrony with people you have never known or seen before, but saw and knew very well at that moment.

On tuesday, the 25th, as we reveled in possibility, a young man turned to me, or perhaps someone beside me and said 'ey da.. da tele3 begad fee naas'. it could not have been better articulated. Da fe3lan fee nas :)

- en e7na bene3raf netsarraf

The moment the police disappeared - and by nightfall (again i was sitll in alex), several individuals roamed the streets with a patch on their shoulders that read 'lagna sha'beyya'. The police withdrawal and the various rumours about the prisoners were starting to ripple through, but almost just as quickly, people got together and formed groups and committees to protect public property such as teh library of Alexandria, as well as homes and personal property such as shops etc. It was INCREDIBLE. Not that it was so spontanesouly organized, bas the extent to which e7na fe3lan bene3raf entsaraf. If Mubarak maintained his power on the basis that life would be chaos without him; i wonder the extent to which we realize, the extent to which we are capable of organizing as a people, not in the absence of the government but also in creating one.

El mawdu3 absat beketir memma takhayalna. The committees were much stronger in Alexandria, they developed subcommittees in every neighbourhood so that every committee had sub committees that were focused on medical and social and security issues and able to provide services to people that not only compensated for the lack of certain aspects of government, but services that never existed anyway. By the time the police were deployed again, (and until a few days ago) their IDs were checked before they were allowed to report to duy and some were monitored.

- on spontaneity and trust

There were vairous moments in tahrir where many of us felt things should be coordinated, or organized, or that we or some of us felt that things should be mobilized in one particular direction or other. Most of these attempts seemed to be failing either because it would turn out several people are already trying to do the same thing, or that it would be impossible to coordiante the efforts or thoughts of such a large mass. Bas as a very wise wael khalil put it, it also meant there was a sort of synergy. Everytime you came up with an idea, it meant at least 3 or 4 groups around you came up with the same idea that very instant. Any attempt to control the idea or co-erce it into any direction failed miserably, because nothing about this movement was to be controlled. THe same spontaneity with which it developed because we were ready, ran through every initiative or everything that took place. At times, it felt hte best thing to do was come up with the idea, marvel at how wonderful it was, adn wait for it to appear, somewhere :)

So there was the instance we decided to collect the various statements of demands that were sprouting; at the time there were 3, and the next day we heard of two more, and the day after that at least three, and then one day; voila, a banner statement of clear demands that stretched the legnth of a building was placed before us all.

Then there was the suggestion or call for 'tas3eed'; whether that involved taking over the TV station or going to the palace, and all the fears and axieites associated with it. And the simplicity and smoothness with which it happened after Mubarak's last speech (khamees al na2ta) on thursday

Though it was hard to stay optimistic some days,at least one thing happened on almost every single day that proved that things were blissfully well beyond our control. Even our imagination. that the sum of our faiths and imaginations, are much wider and much bigger than any one of our imaginations could grasp.

there's a magic in that, and that magic should never ever be forgotten.

- that we did it

there is the very simple, very obvious and now, somehow almost outdated fact that we did it. Once it happened, i felt i wondered if at any one point, or how i could have, at any one point doubted that it would. It is the very material and substantial and obvious 'power of a people'. The fact that we were so many, all over Egypt, that wanted him out, and that we were flexing all our muscles as to what the alternative was. Sure, the issue of constitution may have had us briefly mystified, but that impasse was greatly overcome, as we delved deepr into the question of what the constitution was, how it was written, what it constituted of a social contract between people and their chosen rulers, the fact that it itself stipulated shar3eyyet el thawra; and that the people are the source of all authorities. And that therefore the constitution was void, and really quite irrelevant in this context. The constitution was one of many many myths that stood in our way to power. that and all of the myths that embodied our fear of a repressive regime. Or seeing that most people i know are far braver than i, my own fears. With it the myth of how a government operates, the myth of legitimacy of structure, and the myth of a gaping void of power once it is gone.

the result being the collective decision en 'la mubarak wala suleiman, el kalam dah kan zamaan' adn the growing collective desire that seemed to prefer a clear transitional government that would start with the military; although perhaps that too was a limitation of imagination. i could not imagine an alternative i preferred; though i did and still greatly fear the potentials of a military rule. Hopefully we push for the option of a magles re2asah with civil and military representatives soon..

- politicization of the masses

the fact that we were all able to debate and discuss the constitution, the different possible forms of government, the alternatives to the system we were toppling, and the plurality that defined tahrir. It wasn't just a matter of political affiliations or directions, but it was a question and structure of politics, a realm we had always been so separate from as a people and one we were realizing increasingly we ALL need to be a part of.

- redefining who we are

As Egyptians. This stretches from the sense of humour that ruled and reigned during the protests adn the various slogans, chants and songs that were developing; to the ability to communicate and move forward when most communication lines and channels were severed, to the ability to organize to raise funds and medication and supplies for all for the period we were in tahrir...

all seem to defy all the ideas we had of us as a people; as apathetic or seperated or gated away from each other. it seemed all we needed is a lack of government.

- And finally a lack of nostalgia..

There was always (or at least in my mind and context) this nostalgia to a better time.. whether that was in aspects of Nasser's era or periods before that. Now, there is no period with as much glory as this one. There has been nothing i felt, experienced, heard of or read about in our history or any other that compares to the utopia and fleeting moments of utopia we experienced in tahrir. There is nothing like and no one who did it like we did. There is a great fear and with it a clear criticism of the military coup in 1952 (never again to be referred to as a revolution) and how we run the risks of repetition if we are not careful and demanding of this government.

THere was never a better time than now, and no one has done it as we have. And we are not any one person or any one group, but a whole range of names and faces that filter through my mind right now, some i had never seen before and will never forget, and some i know already i will never see again.

These and many small conversations we'd had with repentant mobinil/vodafone workers who knew about the cut and couldn't stop it; or graduates of law school who remained unemployed for years and questioned how this revolution would serve them; to men who told me honesty we spoke together only because of this revolution as otherwise the blasphemy of the state of my curls would have never allowed; to all the sandwhiches and koshary and water-bottles i've (we all certainly) shared with complete strangers, to the many strangers i have kissed and hugged, shaked hands with, or watched cry, or cried with.

Surely sharing such moments of strong faith and hope, and trust in each other, and absolute distrust in those whove ruled us, and that entire generation with a lapse of imagination has made of us a free generation. We should never doubt our ability to dream up and carry through our future again. Never doubt our entitlement to this country to ourselves. And never doubt our capacity as a people, and the capacity (YES) of good over evil.

We hoped, and we tried, year after year, and somehow a greater larger more dynamic and creative and humbling 'we' did it!

and we have to be SURE we'll continue to...