protests

War Is Seemingly Being Declared on the Brotherhood But Are They Deserving of It?

An American journalist friend of mine got in touch with me just after the 2011 Egyptian parliamentary elections when the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists won a majority of seats.

Were the Muslim Brotherhood extremists? he asked.

He was hearing this and similar things from friends and the media and told me that this was not his understanding. He asked for my insight on the matter.

I sent him a long answer. Here are two short excerpts:

“They are not the type of group that would force women to wear the head scarf or force people to practice a certain form of Islam. My expectation is that they will focus on building the country rather than on building a religious society.”

“…in my opinion it’s not a disaster. I would have liked to see a wider representation of society [in parliament]. I’d like to see Egypt becoming more liberal. The liberals and secularists in Egypt are not strong. They are not united. They have very small followings. And very little experience on the ground with charitable services and politics. It’s going to take time for political parties to grow and have an impact so that they do get followings. We just need to give it some time.”

In the 20 months since that exchange of emails, much has changed, including my own perceptions. (more…)

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Why the June 30 Protesters Do Not Represent Me

Tens of thousands – perhaps millions even – of Egyptians took to the streets once more yesterday, June 30, 2013. Some claim yesterday’s protests were the largest in human history.

I was not among them. Neither were most of my close friends and family, all of whom participated in the January 25 Revolution.

I have spent months following what has been happening in Egypt and, like so many others, perhaps the majority of Egyptians, I have been getting increasingly frustrated with Morsi and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

Their performance in parliament before its dissolution, along with other Islamists, was abysmal. They were unorganized, they failed to focus their attentions where they were most needed, and there was almost a complete lack of a participatory spirit with the rest of the country. They wanted things done a certain way and that was what they were going to do.

Of course, this is what ruling parties do all over the world, not only in Egypt. The difference in our case is that we are in a process of establishing the ground rules for Egyptian democracy. For this process to be successful, all elements of Egyptian society must participate and have a voice. Islamists did everything in their power to dampen or even stifle that voice.

I did not want a Muslim Brotherhood president. (more…)

Memories of an Egyptian Revolutionary

It’s been very hard for me to even consider writing lately. When I write, I share my soul. And my soul is dark these days.

Egypt – and Egyptians with it – has witnessed since the start of 2011 some of its most difficult and its most triumphant days. Within a period of less than three months we have experienced the full range of human emotion in its utmost intensity: curiosity, wonder, hope, fear, desperation, anger, absolute loss of fear, grieving, resolve, steadfastness, and more hope, fear, desperation, anger, loss of fear and grieving. Festiveness, light-headedness. Looking death in the face and accepting it should it come to take us. Hope, indignation, anger. And boom! Triumph! Then exhaustion. The most intense exhaustion one can imagine. Mental and physical. And a return of grieving. Followed by hope. Then confusion. A continuous unrelenting state of confusion. But always, ALWAYS, there is hope.

In my head, images from the past two-and-a-half months go round and round and round. I keep them in this state of constant motion. This way they are only a blur. But every once in awhile, an image will jump away from the blurry mass and bam! A jolt of intense memory electrifies me. These runaway images are more likely to jolt me if I’m watching television and actual images of the revolution are shown. Early on, I learned to shut my eyes as tight as they can be shut when such images go by on the television screen or to change the channel altogether.

Memories of a revolution – a revolution hardly over and just beginning. Memories I need to document, to share, to lighten my soul. They are way too many to list. They are in too much of a jumble to put in any sort of chronological order. No matter how painful some of them are, they are all dearly cherished and have come to be a part of me and of who I am.

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Egypt’s revolution: eyewitness account January 25 to 29

The following is my eyewitness account of events between Tuesday, January 25 and Saturday, January 29. I took all pictures and video footage below. This account only represents that which I have witnessed/filmed personally. It shows only one angle of the events of that week. An account of subsequent days will follow.

Day 1: On January 25, thousands of Egyptians in Cairo answered a call to protest against Mubarak’s regime. It was Police Day; a national holiday. Marches started in various parts of Cairo around noon and eventually started to merge in the early afternoon. Marches continued throughout the afternoon in the downtown area of Cairo with some hindrances by the police in the form of barricades to separate protesters. Protesters continued, nevertheless, to march throughout the downtown area until most of the groups eventually reached Tahrir Square. At 4:50pm, police fire the first tear gas canisters into the crowds to disperse protesters. Tear gas is then fired several more times. Angry protesters start forcing the police back. Rocks are thrown at police. Police rush the protesters, use more tear gas, and use water hoses. The upper hand goes back and forth between protesters and police, each pushed back for awhile and then the process is reversed. I leave protesters that night in the square in a relatively less violent atmosphere, singing the national anthem. Protesters eventually disperse and all go home.

2:44 pm

3:01 pm: "No to poverty, high prices, unemployment, corruption, and emergency law" were the demands on Jan 25

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