Friday, February 11, 2011

Alf Mabrook Ya Misr - Congratulations Egypt!

I never thought I would live to see this day.

I am absolutely deliriously happy.

My kudos to my brave friends who have been at Tahrir square everyday, those who have been conducting neighbourhood watches, those who have been operating medical camps, rallying people, but all the time been peaceful, even in the face of vioplence from State sponsored thugs and hoodlums!

Hopefully a wonderful new positive Egypt will soon emerge with power to the people!

I am not suprised with the car honking and fireworks as being aired on tv :D

I miss Egypt all the more now, really wish I was there right now and able to feel that positive energy.

At this time, I also think that it is important to remember and pray for the martyrs of this revolution that was completely peaceful by the people - Unfortunately the outgoing dictator did not have the same commitment to peace or the welfare of its people at heart.

May you be blessed for your strength and courage. May you get the wonderful government that you deserve!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

#Jan25 Personal Experience No 4 - Merry's Story

When I asked Merry for permission to post her story on this blog, she responded: I would be honored if you shared it for everyone out there to read and know the truth about those AMAZING AMAZING angels/heroes... please don't edit it... I know there might be some punctuation and grammar errors here and there, but it was spilled out of my heart and i feel it's meant to stay that way with its imperfections.

Merry's testimony is extremely touching and had me in tears. Not because it contains violence, but the outpouring of goodness in the face of injustice and violence.

Until recently, I have been too reserved about sharing my writings and my opinions for undefined reasons...  but THIS is bigger than me... and please, I do not mean to come off as an opinionated dictator, but I AM NOT open to counter argument on this one.... you're entitled to your opinion of course, and you are most welcomed to make it heard, but I will choose not to listen to it or read it because this hits an aching nerve that may never heal...

Thanks for putting how I feel into consideration.

Square of Angels

I just came back from Tahrir Square on my way to ease the horrible sense of guilt I felt for not having been there with them during the dark hours when they were being mercilessly attacked by the mercenaries...
My friend and I thought those heroes needed food, water, and medical supplies; however, upon reaching there, we realized they had all had their breakfast (consisting of dry bread and cheese mostly, not Kentucky) and that they had already been supplied with rather more bandage than we provided!

NOT by foreigners, not by hamas, not by MBs, not by Israelis or even Martians... they were already provided by those things because God is great in his most gracious way has managed to send out people like me who could make it earlier....

Despite the ruins, and the massive injuries, I had a very soothing sense that I was in heaven... for the first time in my life the sight of blood did not turn my stomach, for the first time in my life the the smell of horse pee (near the entrances) or that coming out from public restrooms did not make me gasp for air or feel sick!!!!
I was among ANGELS, not human beings... I was surrounded by people with a spirit higher than the sky, THANKING ME, ME!!!!!!!! I did all I can to smile at them, and thank them, and pray for them when all I wanted to do was weep and hide in their arms, and kneel to kiss their feet for making me feel so safe in a place so ruined and destroyed, for making my tense muscles relax after a long night of hysteric crying!!

They were not thanking us for the little food we brought or the few bandage rolls that could fit in my bag... they were thanking me for believing in them, for having swollen eyes that cried for them... for asking them if they had breakfast yet!

I dared not ask them how they were; I was afraid I'd cry and get them down when all they had done was get me up!! One of them asked me and my friend  as his face beamed with a smile "why did you come?"... my friend said "because this is our country...", I looked him in the eye and resisted hugging him as I answered "because YOU are my country"... and they are, Oh God, they are the country I have been looking for my entire life and I finally found it... I found it praying for me and it made me feel like I was safe beyond any harm... the only real harm is the fear that I would lose them to those bastards BASTARDS who try to massacre them when they were so peaceful and unarmed and mostly gracious!!!

One of the women around me who also arrived early this morning like me to help and to find redemption and refuge stood there and kept shouting at the top of her lungs at the army soldiers in their tanks "TRAITORS, BASTARDS, DIRT BAGS" I felt like joining her, I felt like spitting at them... YET, those injured yet high-spirited men asked her politely to stop, then they even apologized to the Army soldiers saying the most adorable Egyptian phrase "7a2ak 3alaya"... They even shared the breakfast they had already had before we made it there with those Army soldiers who stood there all night and watched them fall all around without moving a muscle to protect them... WHO DOES THAT???? Certainly not those who were sitting safe in their homes, either completely ignorant or consumed by pain like me and those who share my feelings... I wanted to snatch the necks of those soldiers, but seeing those people defending them made me respect and honor their wishes, so I wiped away the nasty look I was giving that Army Soldier as he was biting THEIR bread, yet still, I refused to offer him food...

They were smiling faces who welcomed me and apologized for searching me... they thanked me as they refused to take more food than they needed to eat, and pointed to a far away direction saying "our brothers over there have not yet, perhaps"... when I told them "where can I find those who have not eaten", they smiled at me and thanked me and my friend and prayed even more for us! And when I walked too close to Abdel Moneim Riad Square, the line of fire, one of the men asked me to "stay safe" as he offered to take the food to his brothers at that end, to keep me safe!

Before we got in, as I was calling one of the amazing guys who spent the night there to ask where "our people" were to feel safe, he just said "you will know them, they show"... as I told him in a shaky tone of voice "it's hard to tell", I suddenly felt that strange yet very fulfilling sense of security taking all over me as I saw their faces... It was NOT how they looked, it was the aura that surrounded them...

While I was there, I heard that horrific sound of metal clashing, the sign they have amongst them that an intruder is trying to get in... my friend tried to grab me away from the commotion... but I stood still feeling absolutely no fear... I was CERTAIN no one can touch me or harm me as I stood there between those who had sweat and bled all night for my safety while i was sitting on my bed doing nothing but wailing words on my FB account and feeling utter shame.

Those people DO NOT need food or medical supplies half as much as they need our constant and most dedicated support, and presence by their side when the night approaches and those murderers attack them... But most importantly, they DESERVE our utter and complete RESPECT...

As we were walking home, after having passed the secured areas, I began to feel less safe and rather more skeptical of every one walking around me... when a man in a Blue Elantra approached us asking where we had come from, I said "Tahrir Square", he asked "and who are you", I found myself smiling in the same spirit they left me with as I very calmly (yet secretly doubtfully) asking him "and who are you?", he said "are you those who are protesting?"... I smiled even more and told him "those who are protesting are much much better than me, I am only here hoping to help, but who are you with?", he said "I am with Egypt", I pointed towards the end of the street that leads to Tahrir Square and told him "Egypt is right there"...

I collapsed and cried my heart out the moment I stepped home... I have sobbed to at least 4 of my friends after my mom and sister sat to hear me as I told the story just like above to make their voice heard because it's the very least I should do... I bid you all to pray for them... I could not tell their faiths, their socials classes, their educational backgrounds... they all looked the same with their tired yet hopeful faces, with their injured bodies yet healing souls... they looked like a country I would have loved to stay in...

If it weren't for my two sons, I would have stayed there and never left until either Mubarak left or until I had died there between MY PEOPLE, MY FAMILY, My BROTHERS AND UNCLES AND THOUSAND DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF MY FATHER... I would have rather died there with them than face the fear of living a shameful unsafe life among those who doubt them or say what they would have done had they been in their shoes...

I felt like millions of arms were holding my soul safe and sound, and giving me a sense of peace and tranquility I had never experienced before... And now, my heart, my body and my soul are shaking because I left that safety behind as I returned home, I left it there for fear to fill its place, fear of losing those people... fear, and massive disappointment that those people are being called so many bad things they are most definitely NOT...
Today, I have seen Angels in shape of humans... I have seen heaven in the midst of ruins... I am so close right now to faith and yet so close to losing it...

God, please PLEASE be there for them to keep them safe and sound... God, please protect them and shield them from all harm... God please don't let them go in vain... God please change the hearts of those who are in their homes judging and condemning them and send your angels to fight for them...

Until I went today, I only knew few people who were there by name and a friend for whom I was concerned... but as I left there, I left a huge part of me that I know I will always always miss...

I could not change or sleep even though I had not slept in more than 24 hours before I shared this with everyone who can read it... may my words be of use, may those who read my words feel the way I feel right now..

#Jan25 Personal Experience No 3 - Aisha's Story

On Friday afternoon I went with my boyfriend and a group of friends to Tahrir. Of course we did not make it to Tahrir because of the tear gas and crowds. It was really hard to breathe and we often had to turn back for a ways in order to breathe and wipe our eyes. We saw people running back with their eyes streaming and many people we saw were being carried back, unconscious from the fumes. As we moved on we saw one boy being carried past, with his face bloody, unconscious in the arms of several men who ran by in search of help for him.

We eventually got to Ramsis Street where there were large crowds of people all moving in the direction of Tahrir Square. The streets were a mess and looked like a war zone. We kept following the people and everyone was chanting slogans against Mubarak and the government. Shortly after we came up to a riot truck and several cars that had been burned and were still burning in the streets. By this time it was
nighttime. We kept moving and then after a while we saw everybody getting to the right hand side of the street. Then suddenly, we saw a riot truck come careening down the street. Everyone was scrambling to get out of the way, and I was sure that it would start shooting. That was what was on everyone's minds, that it was going to start shooting at all the people in the street. We scrambled to the sidewalks against the walls. But the riot truck didn't shoot. Instead it went speeding
down the street, going at least 80 miles an hour, and there were still people in the street throwing rocks at it and trying to get out of the way! As it sped thru, it hit a guy who had been in the street, and it kept going, and the man's body, and I say body because he was killed instantly, was still spinning from being hit so hard.

That was the hardest day for me so far during these protests. I went out yesterday and saw Tahrir and it was wonderful to see the hundreds of thousands of people protesting peacefully. But today was a different story what with the fights in Tahrir. I am very worried about how polarized the situation has become here in Egypt and I worry that things may get much much worse. While many people have left the country, after having been here for 5 years, I am staying put to watch
and wait and see what will happen.

Hoping everyone in Egypt is staying safe.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

#Jan25 Personal Experience No 2 - Karim's Story

"I criticized the protests up until Friday, at which point it was hard to ignore the government's heavy-handed response, and I joined the protests on Sunday from 2pm to 8 am, and again all day Tuesday. I lucked out as the mood on both days was overwhelmingly positive and happy.

On Sunday, I saw soldiers play a short soccer match with protesters, soldiers huddle around fires with protesters, and people break off into small groups to share stories, jokes, and poems to help pass the time through the cold night. I saw people pick up trash (if you live in Cairo you know how amazing that sight would be) hand out water and food, and start spontaneous conversations with strangers.

On Tuesday there were volunteers working crowd control, checking to make sure that protesters didn't bring in weapons and checking people's IDs to make sure the police didn't get in. While doing this, they announced: "If you're police, turn around and leave now. We don't want you here". Despite the intense crowds, everything was managed by the people and things went remarkably smoothly.

When groups of Muslim Brotherhood would start chanting pro-Islamist slogans, everyone around them told them to stop because the revolution belongs to all people. People carried signs showing solidarity between Muslims and Christians.

I walked home alone all the way from Tahrir to Nasr City starting around 9 pm, and felt completely safe the entire time. Soldiers who asked for my ID asked me where I was coming from, and I told them I was at the demonstrations. They were completely fine with that. At all times they were incredibly kind and courteous and are nothing like Egyptian police.

And then we have the situation in Tahrir today, for which I wasn't present for. I'm incredibly upset at what's happening to those people who I believe are being attacked by plainsclothes police officers, and even more upset by family and friends who are brainwashed by state-run television into thinking that this assault is in any way justified. I hope everyone in the community is alright, and for those who felt compelled to leave Egypt for their safety, I hope this country is soon
stable enough for your return.


Some on the ground blogs and photos from the #Jan25 days in Egypt

I am currently not in Cairo, but have plenty fo friends still there. Some have evacuated, some are staying back.

I'm linking to blogs and photos taken during these days by people I know in Cairo. I'll also be posting personal testimonies once I get individual permissions.

Women of Egypt are also standing up and participating.

The Best Egypt Protest Signs From Around The World


Pictures from Alexandria - Scroll to the end of the album.

A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt To clear up misconceptions, this is a good read, ignore the swearing and there's some good stuff in there.

Why it is wrong to believe a word Mubarak said Some sound logic here with legal knowledge.

Neighborhood patrols defend a Cairo in flux - How "ordinary" citizens are protecting their families and property.

Clueless in Cairo by Nicholas Kristof

The Road to Grad School has a daily diary up. Katie has been writing it daily and uploading her posts when the internet is up.

Sam On Earth resurrects his blog.

Egypt: A New Spirit of National Pride - The most awesome video on Egypt I have seen in the last few days. For someone who hasn't lived in Egypt, you will have no idea how monumental the change in attitude is, but you will still appreciate this video

Heather has a few videos up on youtube

Online Petitions:
Click here to stand with the Egyptian protesters

An appeal to the US government for the people of Egypt.

This is a petition thats doing the rounds on the internet.

If you are an US citizen and feel strongly, you may want to mail your representatives:


PLEASE SPREAD AS FAR AND WIDE AS YOU CAN! including to press and politicians if possible. Thank you.

Freedom, democracy, and self-determination are the main tenets of U.S. foreign policy and are used to justify our actions around the world. We zealously preach these concepts and yet now when confronted by a people forging their own path to achieve these goals our leaders are cowering on their soap boxes with their lips sealed. Silence is tantamount to consent. We teach our children that they must not stand for the abuse of others, that they must advocate for what is right, so why does our government keep quiet? The Egyptian people do not need foreign approval in order to achieve their revolution, but they want it. They want the world to recognize that what they are fighting for is their right as a nation to free themselves of an oppressive and corrupt dictator.

      The U.S. government needs to stop this hypocrisy and declare its support of the Egyptian people in their attempt at peaceful reform. The illegitimacy of Hosni Mubarak's regime is clear and if there was ever any doubt about the nature of his rule being oppressive and terrorizing then the events of today have underscored this reality to an extent that the international community can no longer choose to ignore. A leader who speaks sweet nothings one evening only to send out his party members, police force and convicted criminals into the street to foment dissent and incite violence between his people should not be cosseted by foreign governments. This behavior is not only disgusting but it underlines the fact that he cannot be trusted to aid in a constructive transition. It is clear only after today's events that there is no way forward with Mubarak remaining in power, his continued presence would poison the process of rebuilding a free, fair, and democratic new government for Egypt.

      As an American living in Egypt I am dismayed by the ignorant and shortsighted response of the U.S. government to the situation. Pulling the U.S. embassy out of Cairo is an example of fear mongering and jeopardizes the safety of its citizens here and our country's relationship with the Egypt to come. The statements thus far by our leaders have been completely devoid of meaning for the Egyptian people and have yielded only confusion, frustration and disbelief. I implore my government to dispel its unfounded fear and act as we would teach our children to.
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