>When the Armed Reign Supreme

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My friends and family from all over the world ask me: “how fares the Egyptian revolution?”

And in all honesty, I choke on the answer. I usually gulp down some coffee and stare into the empty space ahead and shake my head.

For those of you who don’t know, Egypt is now run by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). Does the name sound scary enough? Sounds pretty scary to me!

I’ve always been wary of those who are armed, especially if they reign supreme.

The Egyptian people, however, has a completely different view. Army tanks deployed on the streets of Tahrir square back in the Mubarak-days were greeted with loving chants. Army officers were being hugged by people from all walks of life. Tears of joys were in the eyes of many of the protestors who had once chanted “wahid, itnayn, el gayesh el masry fayn” which roughly translates to “ one … two … our army where are you?” The truly believed in the Egyptian Army as their savior and deliverer from the hellish grip of the brutal police.

“What the hell is wrong with these people,” I had asked .

“What do you mean what’s wrong with them?  Nothing is wrong with them, they’re welcoming our Army.” He said looking at me as if I had just landed from a different planet. “Our army. The army that has sworn to defend and protect us. The army that stands guard to keep Egypt safe.”

I still failed to understand the true reasons behind the love affair between Egyptians and the Army. Not because I had anything against them, but because I knew all too well that the disciplined army soldiers, who live and die by a sacred hierarchical structure, have no taste for democracy–or rights.

Mubarak stepped down, or rather was forced to step down by a yet-to-be-identified entity. And SCAF stepped up.

I immediately did not like this. Armed forces are trained to fight, not rule. It is just a simple as that. They undergo rigorous training that encourages blind obedience, suppresses individuality, fosters patriarchal world views, and teaches blindness to the rights of the one when it conflicts with the good of the many. And herein lies the rub!

SCAF’s current version of the good of the many involves keeping ex-president Mubarak in 5-star suite in a private Sharm El Sheikh hospital.

SCAF are just extending some courtesy to their ex-leader Mubarak, you say? You want us to let it go? Well, Mubarak has ordered the police to gun down protestors which resulted in the death and maiming of thousands of Egyptians, most of them young and still had a full life ahead of them. Mubarak lies in a 5-star hospital bed while the dead lie in their graves. Does that sound fair to you?

Egypt is spiraling down a very dark tunnel while our future is not revealed to us by the powers that be. Lack of transparency, camouflage-clothing inspired perhaps, is baffling us. When EXACTLY are the elections? Dates… numbers? No one knows for sure. Who’s voting? Rumor after rumor followed by a denial here and a confirmation there.

Civilians undergo military trials. While Mubarak, once the high commander of the Armed Forces, is being investigated by the Attorney General. Justice? I think not.

We seek justice for those who were wronged and we seek our long-lost freedom. That’s how I know we are on the side of righteousness.

May 27th is when we attempt to right the wrongs and walk-down the paths of Tahrir Square again. If you cannot join us, I beseech you, remember us in your prayers. 

>Children of the Egyptian Revolution

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This piece first appeared on the Imperfect Parent,
titled Tahrir Square Presents Children of the Egyptian Revolution

“Mommy! Don’t ‘Oust’ me! I am not an evil president.” Said my six year old as a reply to my “Allez! Oust! Au lit!” which is French for C’mon and get to bed right away. She associated the interjection ‘oust’ with the English verb she heard so many times from me, as well as on Television where news of attempts to ‘oust’ Mubarak, the evil Egyptian president, was all over. She said that to me in English then switched to Arabic to ask me if I can take her to Tahrir Square tomorrow.
The way she pronounced ‘Tahrir’ square made it clear, beyond any doubt, that she was truly Egyptian. The way she formed the “h” of Tahrir, the letter we represent phonetically as ‘7’ in our Arabic text messages, was impeccable. “Tahrir means Liberation in Arabic, is that why we chose this square mommy?” It was, in fact, just a coincidence–a very befitting one indeed. Liberation square witnessed the largest protests in Egyptian history. Protests which lead to the putting an end to the thirty-year reign of the dictator Hosni Mubarak and has set the country on a path for political reform.
Tuesday January 25th was the date it all started. My daughter woke up and sat next to me as I was watching live feed showing the protests. I explained to her that people are demonstrating because they want the president to leave because he is not a very fair person and he had done many things that are very wrong. She heard me talking on the phone to friends heading towards Tahrir and that was the first time she heard the word dictator– or a deektaatoor as we would pronounce it in Arabic. She giggled because a ‘toor’ is a bull in Arabic, so to her, that was a funny way to insult someone. After I was off the phone she said to me, “I know why you call him a ‘tor’. It’s cuz he’s a bully right?” Her eyes sparkled and I did not want to burst her bubble. She spoke the whole sentence in Arabic except for the English word “bully.” She had made an interesting association between the word bully and ‘toor’ which in her mind meant bull. I though this quite amusing and wondered whether I should correct her at all.
“No honey, a ‘deektaatoor’ is called a dictator in English and has nothing to do with bulls. A dictator is someone who likes to hog power and authority all for himself, and he uses them to control people.”
“Aha! He IS a bully then! Told ya mommy.”   This exchange was again in English, and then we went on a discussion, in French, of the differences between ruling a country and being Mayor of ‘Toy Village’–her own imaginary make-belief play land. She did not think there was that much of a difference and so she firmly believed she can be an excellent choice for the next Egyptian president, like Cleopatra. The fact that Cleopatra was not a president did not matter too much to her. A person who rules a country, whether elected or not, should be just and fair. You can hardly argue with that.
Our trilingual conversation is just an example of the multiculturalism that exists in Egypt. We have French, Canadian, British, and American family members in our extended family. In fact, almost every family in Egypt has. And they all have backed up and supported our revolution.
This February, all the children of Egypt, like my daughter, are learning important lessons about freedom, courage and standing up for their rights–values which were only whispers prior to January 25th,2011.

>Speechless in Tahrir Square

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Blog about it Amira… write about it.
Well sometimes, the fact is, you are just speechless and utterly at a loss for words.

When history is being written, and we are there, we live it. I could not write about it while it was happening, I was too shaken–and too bitter at all those trying to abort the revolution.

When Mubarak stepped down, I wrote about it on Blogcritics.

And now there is so much to do–and so much to write about.

So let the journey begin….