Showing posts from January, 2016

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 7: rumors

Monday, January 31st, 2011

The sit-ins and protests on the Good Land continue to grow and so does the will of protesters. In Tahrir Square and Alexandria, protesters call for million-man protests tomorrow. The square becomes much safer, and now that protesters are not worried about their lives, they start organizing themselves for tomorrow. There is a place for the tents, and a media area, and restrooms. All square entrances are secured by people's committees who check IDs and search whoever gets into the square. Then there are different routes for entering and exiting the square. As the Internet remains blocked, protesters rely on international media to relay their messages of encouragement and reassurance to attract more people to join the protests.
Mubarak is given until Friday to resign, after which there will be a million-man protest by the Presidential Palace. At home, which is pretty close to the Palace, Mubarak's residence and several military areas, we're locked in …

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 6: neighborhood committees

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

As the night falls and up until next morning neighborhood committees are in control of guarding the Good Land. All night we hear gunfire and shouting every few minutes, but the looters fail to get into the area. Our committee and the ones around it cooperate together to ensure the whole area is safe; the ones closest to the main street act as the frontline, if looters succeed to pass this line they're met by several other committees. The cooperation is also in the type of weapons, at the frontline there may be molotov cocktails, followed by pieces of cement from the sidewalk, then glass bottles. And, for everything there's a philosophy.

If someone enters our neighborhood after the curfew, they're stopped by a middle aged lady leading the area's frontline committee. If she doesn't know you, she'll ask for your ID to make sure you live in the area. Then you'd pass through barricades set by the committee (may be big 4*4 cars or trucks)…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 5: revolution

Saturday, January 29th, 2011 

After Rage Friday ends, it becomes clear to everyone that we're witnessing a revolution...

The 12-hour curfew ends at 6:00 am, that's when we leave. Mobile networks are finally working, but data is still blocked, so we turn on the radio to hear the news and I finally understand why I kept hearing gunfire last night. Several prisons were opened and prisoners, criminals and otherwise, are set free. For some reason, criminals who are let loose decide not to go hide, or rest. They decide to go directly to work, and the looting and vandalism begin. 

We pass by the ring road, there are burning tires and burnt vehicles. As the radio anchor explains what happened last night, we see it happening. We pass by Carrefour and we see the looting as it happens; people are carrying whatever they can and walking without any concern, a bus is waiting for some of them. What we see happening in Carrefour has happened elsewhere, in banks and ATMs, malls and different shop…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 4: rebirth

Friday, January 28th, 2011 
The country wakes up to a total digital blackout; mobile networks follow the Internet, leaving hundreds of thousands of families not knowing what the fate of their loved ones will be in hours to come. I'm not able to overcome my fear, but my family and I decide it won't be possible not to be part of this. We join the rally leaving from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandeseen...
People say the moment you join a protest fear dies, they lie. The moment I join the Rage Friday protest my fear dissolves in a much bigger and deeper awe, one that overcomes all other feelings. It's a collective dread that screams out of every heart, deep with worry that this revolution won't make history...
On our way to the mosque following the prayers we see CSF trucks and personnel everywhere, helpless, but ready to kill. We reach the mosque and people start to gather, CSF leave us be, for now. Tens gather, someone starts to chant, numbers grow, chants become louder. T…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 3: anticipation

Thursday, January 27th, 2011 

Anticipation, excitement, and fear get us through the day. Tomorrow is either the beginning of a revolution or shall put an end to one. Two days have passed and both parties now have time to think. Protesters set their plan last night, another day of rage, Rage Friday. They call protests after Friday prayers, the plan is so detailed that it's worrying. On Thursday evening the rallies' meeting points and routes are announced on the Facebook event. Now everyone, government included, know exactly where every protest will be, and when. How risky can this be? No government officials speak all day, but the CSF presence keeps increasing.
Suez is still on fire, but elsewhere protests get smaller in preparation for tomorrow. Rumors fill the country; the army will take control tomorrow, all protesters will be shot or detained, a curfew/martial law will be imposed. In days to come, we shall know that rumors is one of the regime's strongest weapons.
A list o…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 2: not this time

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 

In the city that never sleeps, the few who choose to go to bed before 1:00 am like me wake up to an empty Tahrir Square. Through social media it becomes known that some time after midnight, amid a dark square alive with chants from Tunisia and ones that have for long been voiced by a few, CSF were given the order. At 12:35 am, the CSF trucks' sirens fill the darkness, then loud shots outweigh the chants. Tear gas and rubber bullets everywhere, in just 15 minutes, the few-hours long sit-in is cut short. People run to side streets, chased and outnumbered by supposedly humans in a devilish uniform. Detains are random, some go home, others disappear.
The CSF didn't use live ammunition in Tahrir Square, but they did in Suez, thinking that international media will only focus on Cairo, thus this is the only place where they should play it smart. Rightly so, in our extremely centralized Egypt the focus is mostly on Cairo. Where they were mistaken, however, i…

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget - Day 1: faith shall always win

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
On that day I am one of the many who don't think of joining the protests, I choose to be one of those following the events on television and social media rather than taking a positive action. Yes, I want to, but I am scared. Other people are not scared, thousands take to the streets in Cairo and elsewhere. The number of deployed Central Security Forces is probably unprecedented, but demonstrations coming from different parts of Cairo still make it to Tahrir Square, where it all began. Suddenly there are thousands of protesters, enough to call for something bigger, and so the chants for ousting Mubarak and bringing down his regime fill the air.
Television, as one would have expected, is a failure; there is almost no coverage of the protests. It is only Al Jazeera that is worth watching, but knowing that the Muslim Brotherhood are not taking part on that day, even Al Jazeera's coverage is far from sufficient. By midday, it becomes clear that social media …

The January 25 Revolution: lest we forget

Five years from today a miracle took place on the Good Land, but it didn't take us by surprise. In Egypt, miracles are never a surprise. It was the best day in the lifetime of many of us who have never witnessed a collective hope for a brighter future. Maybe this is why when, five years from that day we're still far from that hope, some feel shattered and defeated. I was one of those people; I lost hope in the Good Land, the Good People, and myself. It's been five years, and the Good People have still not witnessed the change that many have given their lives, eyes or time for. It's been five years and the miracle has passed without leaving any trace, or so I thought. 
Three years ago I've decided to give up, after the Muslim Brotherhood nightmare was over but people were still being killed and detained in the memory of that day, I've decided to push the memories of the January 25 Revolution to the back of my head. I've decided that they bring with them too m…

The Antique Khana of Egypt

It was back in 1902 on the Good Land of our graceful Cairo - El Mahrousa - when our ancestors' treasures finally found a home to settle. The idea of a museum for Pharaonic antiquities, however, was born earlier in 1835 in El Azbakeya  during the reign of Mohamed Ali Pasha. The contents were then moved to a storage room in the Citadel, and later to an old royal palace in Boulaq through the efforts of the Great French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. After moving to another palace in Giza, it finally settled in Khedivate Egypt, when Khedive Abbas Helmi II ordered to build a museum for the Ancient Egyptian antiquities in Tahrir Square, which was then known as El Ismaeeilia Square (after Khedive Ismaeel, the father of the Khedivate Cairo architecture).

The current building, which Egyptians used to call the Antique Khana (the antiquities' chamber),  was given its "neoclassical" style by French Architect Marcel Dourgnon. It was built over a period of five years, opening its d…

Review: الباب المفتوح

الباب المفتوح by لطيفة الزيات
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every Egyptian lady should read this book. I can't say enough how empowering it is. It so clearly depicts the life of Egyptian ladies in the mid 20th century and how some of them decided to take control of their own lives, while others decided to stick to traditions. Things might have changed since then, but the fight still persists. Some girls still choose to marry someone because of their social status, profession or family. Some girls still let the men in their lives control them. Some girls still choose not try to find themselves, to think of themselves, to decide for themselves, or to be in control.

El Bab El Maftooh is the story of Laila, a girl who has been raised to feel that she's less than men in everything possible, but has always felt that she can be more. Three men, the political events that took place then, and different incidents in her life drastically change her. And we're taken with Laila to…