Monday, January 31, 2011

The Million Person March in Alexandria


We just came back from the protests. It was amazing! It was just amazing! A large section of the protesters were in front of the house so Mansour & I went down to join them. Mansour wearing his kufiyah and I in a sweater and jeans. There was a call for Asr prayers and many protesters stopped to pray. People started to throw newspapers from their balcony so protesters could put them on the streets to pray on.  What I saw was amazing. In the front of the prayers everyone was mixed, men and women. There was a section of women in the back as well (mostly older women and women in hijab), but even then, two rows of young men came and stood behind them to protect them and watch their bags, just in case there were pickpocket, or just for general protection really. It is not true what the media is saying about the Brotherhood leading these demonstrations. People are just praying. No one is leading, it is just everyone cooperating with each other peacefully and equally. It's just an amazing feeling.  

We were singing Biladi Biladi (the national anthem). We chanted "Imshee ba2a ya 3am. Khaleee 3andak shawat dam" (Leave Mubarak, Have some shame). People had a lot of signs and banners demanding that Mubarak leaves. People were handing out leaflets that said we won't stop until he goes. People were adamant that they would not leave the streets. 

When we walked by Roushdie Street we saw my cousin and walked with him until we reached Sidi Gaber (Alexandria Train Station). He had just finished talking to one of his friends in the same demonstration who was standing next to Nadi Itihad (Union Club at the opposite end of the city). If that is the demonstrations stretch than it was easily, 1 million people in that part of Alexandria. 

Later, we were told that al-Jazeera showed shots of a large demo on al-Kornaish (the coastline). In that case, we must have had more than a million protesters in Alex alone. 

One man, who looked like he had suffered a lot and had really had enough, was walking in the opposite direction of all the protestors. He was screaming, "I've been a donkey for 30 years. I can't feed my kids. I can't give them a proper education. I have no dignity. But not anymore. I'm going to be free!"

All along the main street in Alexandria, Abu Eer, the young men were standing in front of stores and houses to protect them, just in case there were any looters. Whenever people saw those young men, everyone would cheer and chant in favor of civil protection and civil resistance.Earlier this morning, in Zazinya neighborhood we saw a couple of teenage girls wearing gloves collecting all the garbage on the streets. Other youth were finding trucks to collect the garbage and help them clean the street. Even after the prayer I told you about, everyone picked up their own newspaper. You couldn't even tell that a second ago there had been thousands of newspapers on the streets. It was so clean.  

We were passing by tanks and even cheering for the army. They aren't stopping anyone at all. It's just amazing. All age groups, all classes, all men and women, kids, children. There are very old people walking, people are holding chairs to stop and rest. I've seen many people, young and old, on wheelchairs. No way the army would attack such a protest. There were so many women carrying their kids. I talked to a couple of young girls and I asked them why they were demonstrating. They said, this is our country and we want it back. These girls were with their parents, who are walking along with them - there are no objections to kids taking part in these demonstrations, actually the opposite is true. 

Mubarak is going to talk tonight. I think this is it. I think its the end. Amr Moussa is telling him to leave. Ahmad Zowail told him to leave. Farouk El-Baz told him to leave. Al-Baradei, everyone is on TV publicly telling him to leave. They just said the protesters are having a sit in until he goes - a sit in until Friday. We'll see.

I don't know how to explain how I feel. It's so overwhelming. Its a feeling of euphoria. I can't remember anything like this before. I remember things in the 60's but it was a certain age group, mostly students. Never ever have there been numbers like this. And like I said, all the ages and classes are united. 

The middle and upper-middle class who have businesses, who's businesses are  loosing a lot now, are there too. Those are people who are pretty comfortable under Mubarak, but they are equally angry about what Egypt has become under his rule. Everyone is on the streets.

I'm so so happy I am here. Okay, the first night, I was a bit scared. But now I wouldn't miss it for the world. I am so happy I am here. 

The TV said there is a pro-Mubarak protest. The highest estimates are 1000 people. Hahaha.  

I don't see any fear. That's the big difference. Any fear people had is gone. Everyone feels this is their country. Before everyone knew there was a small group of people who are in charge of everything, but now no one is scared. Everyone is doing what they can, helping in any way. Giving people water, distributing leaflets, everyone is so involved. The country is really in a standstill until something happens. When family was calling us earlier in the week they were telling us be careful be careful. Now everyone who calls us are saying we are so jealous of you! 

I picked up extra leaflets and I took a lot of pictures and videos. I can't wait to put them on the internet.

Picture courtesy of my cousin Mohamed.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Morning of Jan 28th

My husband & I arrived in Alex from Cairo right just after the Friday prayers.  We were staying with my parents who live in an apartment building on Horria Avenue (between a Police Station & a Gas Station). The streets where deserted. I actually made a bet with my husband. He said, I don’t think anything is going to happen. I said, no something will. Half an hour later I began feeling really embarrassed because it looked like he won. The streets where deserted. There were no officers or cars.

Around 2pm, while we were sitting and having lunch, we started hearing noises. We ran to the balcony. We saw a group coming from the west towards the police station close to our house.  There were about 2,000-3,000 people. They stopped in front of the police station and chanted: “Al sha3b Youreed an yasqot al nezam” (the people want the regime to step down).  Then they continued on eastward on Horria Avenue.

By 2:15-2:20 we heard even louder chants, the second wave of demonstrators had no end. There was a minimum of 50,000-to 100,000 passing by us. They were chanting “selmeya selmeya” (peaceful peaceful) “Hosni Mubarek ya kharib’ha, itla3 bara yala w sibha” (Hosni Mubarak who destroyed it, go out and leave).

There were people of all classes, ages, religions, etc..(but mainly young men and women between 15-30) I saw a twenty year old demonstrating with his mom on a wheelchair. I was so happy it looked like this. The demonstrators would start chanting for people they saw watching from the balcony to come down.  Most people did.  Those who did not were cheering and sharing food and water. It was being passed around for all.

The chants "Egyptians!! Join us!!" slowly changed to "Mansour!! Join us!!". I was really impressed. Did not know my hubby was that famous.  The we saw a man jumping and waving to call us. We realized it was my brother-in-law Mohamed and a group of his friends. My husband left to join him 10 minutes ago. It's not scary though, it's amazingly peaceful. We heard that the police are refusing to fire tear gas. We called Mohamed's wife to tell her not to worry about her husband cause he joined the demo directly from the mosque.He couldn't reach her since the cell phones are not working. Only landlines.

The demonstrators stopped outside the police station again. I couldn’t see what happened but everyone in the demonstration started to cheer. I think that some officers must have joined because all the protesters where so happy, and moved on. Their numbers kept growing as people joined them from the neighboring buildings and streets as they passed by. The pictures they are carrying are national icons, Mustafa Kamal, Saed Zaglool, Tal3at Harb, etc. And every now and then people will start singing national songs, Beladi (My country),  Masr heya Omi (Egypt is my mother). You couldn't see any signs of the Muslim Brotherhood, everyone is just protesting together. 

No internet, no phones, no TV stations that show what is going on (specifically AlJazeera), and Egyptian stations are playing movies and music. And in spite of all of this, the protests are so strong. I’m so happy, I can’t describe it.  It is the first time I see hope in peoples eyes. I am sure something will happen.

.... there are more protesters coming, but from the opposite direction. They are a different protest that will all probably join at the east point of Alexandria.”

I don’t know what will happen next. Rumor has it that the Minister of industry and trade was called back from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. So there is a rumor that he may be forming the new government.

Demonstrators have signs saying “Jeddah is waiting for you (Mubarak)” hahaha. 

My mother comes in from the balcony laughing:

Two security vehicles were going down the street slowly, I think they were coming back to the police station near our house. When the rank and file officers came out the protesters started giving them cigarettes and water. And they are smoking, and they are not supposed to do so while they are on duty. (laughter). I want to make them coffee and tea.  It is really peaceful, its so peaceful, it's amazing.

Photo courtesy of my dear cousin Mohammed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

هشام الجخ

معنديش أي مبرر أن إمبارح يكون أول يوم أشوف وأسمع وأنبهر بشاعر مصري عبقري إسمه هشام الجخ.ء

زوروا الصفحة دي على الفيس بوك، وصوتوله (يعني إدوله صوتكم) في مسابقة أمير الشعراء المقامة في أبوظبي،ء

ومش بطلب الطلب دة من المصريين علشان هو مصري،ء

ولكن من كل العرب علشان هو يستحق اللقب.ء

Friday, January 21, 2011


 لو ماكنتش مسلمة، وكنت متسابقة في برنامج من سيريح المليون، وكان السؤال الأخير هو:ء
 ما هي أول كلمة وأول أمر أوحى به إلى رسول الإسلام؟    كنت لا يمكن أعرف الإجابة من معرفتي بأحوال المسلمين (بتكلم عن الأيام المهببة اللي إحنا فيها دي)ء

وحتى لو الإختيارات بعد حذف ثلاث إجابت (أصل جورج قرداحي كان معجب بية وعايز يساعدني)، هي: إقرأ

كنت برضة حأستعين بالجمهور

ولو الجمهور كله أجمع إن إقرأ هي الإجابة الصحيحة،ء

كنت برضة حأكلم شيخ الأزهر أتأكد منه الأول،ء

وبعد مايأكدلي إن الإجابة هي إقرأ،ء

كنت برضة حنسحب وأخد النص مليون وأروح!!!!ء

معقول يكون في أمة في العالم، تقول على نفسها أكثر شعوب العالم تدينآ، ويكون أول أمر أمرها به ألله عز وجل هو إقرأ، ومع هذا تكون من التخلف وسوء فهم لدينها لدرجة أن يصفها المتنبي بقوله:ء

!! يا أمة ضحكت من جهلها الأمم

Monday, January 3, 2011

What can we do?

A few ideas for action by us, Egyptian Muslims:
  • Take turns acting as human shields around Churches,  especially on the 6th & 7th of January (I know this would take a lot of courage, but it would be useful to know how Christians feel every time they go to their churches to pray to the same God we worship). 
  • Start a campaign with the slogan "In Egypt, the crescent protects the cross" 
  • Speak out against hate talk, whether it is by a member of our family, a friend, a sheikh, or a public figure
  • Create a Facebook groups & websites to promote love between all Egyptians & to expose anyone guilty of hate talk.
  • Support Christians in gaining equal rights as full citizens (it's true that we Muslims are not treated as full citizens either, but that's a different story).
I am sure each one of us can come up with more ideas, meaning there's a lot to do.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

مصر هي أمي. يعني جرجس هو أخويا و فاطمة هي أختي.

 إذا كان طلاب وأهالي كلية النصر للبنات على درجة من الوعي والشجاعة جعلتهم يتظاهرون وينظمون الاعتصامات لإنقاذ اسم مدرستهم وتاريخها ، وإذا كانت جماعات كثيرة من المصريين يفعلون الشيء نفسه لأسباب مختلفة ، فالأولى أن نهب جميعآ وأن تفعل كل ما بوسعنا في وجه ما حدث في صباح أول يوم من أيام 2011.ء
إن تفجير سيارة ملغومة أو تفجير إنتحاري بالقرب من كنيسة القديسين في الأسكندرية هو حدث خطير لا يمكن أن نتجاهله أونشاهد أحداثة من بعيد.ء

علينا مسؤولية ليس فقط بالشجب والإدانة بعد وقوع الحوادث ، ولكن للوقوف في وجه خطباء الكراهية والمنادين بالعنف من أي جماعة.  وكلي إيمان أن مواطني مصر، مسيحيها ومسلميها، سوف ينفضون رمال التشدد والكراهية التي هبت عليهم،  وسيظهر معدنهم الأصيل ولن يقعوا كفريسة سهلة لأهداف الذين يقفون وراء الانفجار.ء

أدعو أن نحول الغضب إلى تحرك واسع  يدعو إلى الوقوف جنبا إلى جنب كمواطنين مصريين ، في مواجهة عدونا الأخطير، ألا وهو الانقسام الطائفي.ء

حبوا وأدعموا أخواتكم في الوطن قبل فوات الاوان.  اذا خسرنا هذه الحرب ، فالفوز بكل المعارك الصغيرة بعد هذا، لن يعني شيئا.ء

مصر هي أمي. يعني جرجس هو أخويا و فاطمة هي أختي.ء

"Gergis is my brother, and Fatma is my sister"

If the EGC students and parents are conscientious enough to organized sit-ins and demonstrations to save their school’s name and history, and if other groups do the same for various causes that they care about, then I expect all Egyptians to rise to the occasion and stand together in the face of  the horror the hit us all at the early morning hours of the first day of 2011.

The attack on the Saints Church in Alexandria, whether it's a car bomb or a suicide bomber,  is a serious and dangerous event that we cannot ignore or just watch from afar.

We have the responsibility not only to denounce and condemn after the fact, but to proactively stand in the face of any hate talk or violent action from any group.  I know that Egyptians can & will shake off the sands of extremism & hatred, so that Egypt does not becomes the next Sudan, Iraq, or Yemen.

Christians and Muslims are required to show wisdom and not naively play into the hands of those behind the attack. We must turn the anger into activism which brings us all side by side in the face of our most dangerous enemy, sectarian divide.

Love and support your fellow citizens before it’s too late. If we lose this war, then all the small battles that we win, won't mean a thing.

Egypt is my mother, means Gergis is my brother, and Fatma is my sister.