The Revolution Memoir – Chapter I

A personal memoir of my experience of the #25Jan Revolution

Chapter I

Prologue

This is my personal memoir about the 18 days that altered the face of Egypt (and possibly the world) forever. This is a personal record of my experience of the revolution, reflecting the very small part I played and lamenting that I didn’t have a bigger part in it.

Prior to the 25th no one imagined what will take place during the next 18 days. I personally was not on facebook during the 4 month prior to the revolution, my account (among several others) got deactivated prior to the last fraudulent parliamentary elections.

That’s why before the 25th I haven’t heard or received any invitations to the protests of the 25th of January, I heard about it through the opposition newspapers, but I didn’t think about joining because I thought that in the end, it will be just another small protest like hundreds I have been to before. About five years ago I took the decision not to take part in protests anymore, and committed myself to virtual activism, trying to cause change through writing and saving my energy for charity works, to affect the immediate social circles I deal with.

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Parliament Elections: Seriously?

A new dimension for fairness and democracy: Official results of the Egyptian parliamentary elections state that candidates of different opposition parties won 15 seats, where as the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) secured 420 seats out of the parliament’s total 504 seats.

Rheeeeeeeeallyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

That’s less than 3% for the opposition and more than 83% for the NDP (Narcotics Drugs & Poverty)!

Now that’s true democracy…!

Dear Mr. President… you really are asking for it!

BBC: Mubarak’s Egypt

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After 28 years in power in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak‘s promised to shepherd Egypt into a stable democracy has dissipated. It is the awaited transition that never happened (and probably never will).

BBC Arab Affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi attempts to understand what has happened to Egypt in the half century since the military seized power, and particularly during Mubarak’s era, in two Radio show broadcast on the 22nd of June,  and 29th of June. The 50 minutes show features many public figures and commentators like Samieh Sawiris,
Abdel Halim Kandil, Talaat el Sadat, Galal Amin and many others, and it goes through some very relevant questions concerning Mubarak, his legacy and the hire to his throne.

“Curiously it seems that the Egyptians – some fearful of the Islamist opposition, others suspicious of the new business elite – are looking to the army again for a savior.

President Mubarak’s greatest achievement is arguably that Egypt is stable, and some might say even predictable.

But to achieve this stability, many of his decisions have involved careful compromises. While on the international stage he has been praised for these, choosing the middle path has had the effect of not really pleasing anyone.

His choice between stability over democracy, for example, or between the needs of Palestinians and peace with Israel, have been widely questioned but not utterly condemned.

At home there’s a buoyant economy and there is money to be made thanks to his reforms. But while shopping malls spring up everywhere, it is still common to find districts of Egypt without a sewage system and with poor infrastructure.

Is this stable, undemocratic but functioning Egypt a good enough legacy?”

Listen to Mubarak’s Egypt – part one (mp3)

Listen to Mubarak’s Egypt – part two (mp3)

Or Download part one and part two, from the BBC website.

First broadcast Friday 22nd of June 2009 and Friday 29th of June 2009.

The monkeys and the lioness

I’ve to admit I haven’t been “Politically active” the past period… I don’t know a reason for that, except for the fact that it’s been a crazy couple of month (work wise). And also I’ve fallen to a “Political indifference” after Gaza’s Massacre, while seeing the leaders of the “Arab” world battling over credit, and the leaders of the Palestinian people, battling over the crumbs (or rather chunks) of Gaza rebuilding aid.

But Suddenly I was brought out of my Political Stupor by the recent “capture” of the Hezbollah “terrorist” cell, in Egypt.

Now, I don’t know If anyone have noticed but suddenly our brave government and it’s “collaborators” have jumped on the arrest, like hungry hounds… Using euphemisms like “No one messes with Egypt” and other utterly meaningless statements, that brings to memory the “post 9/11” Bush speeches.

Suddenly Hezbollah, which was heroized and gained public ground after Lebanon war (to the dismay of Egyptian governments), was back in the black list.

Well not suddenly actually, the Egyptian media have been over-playing Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah statements, during the Gaza massacre, in which he (rightfully, may I add) attacked Egypt’s feeble role in Gaza’s recent tragedy.

Since then the state owned media have played all it’s dirty cards to demonize and entice hate against Hezbollah, personified in Hassan Nasrallah, and they succeeded greatly at it. All of a sudden Nasrallah became public enemy number 1, and the hire of Satan himself! As if he was the one responsible for all the global criticism we were getting throughout Gaza war, or as if he was responsible for all our problems with our Arab neighbors… meantime, ironically the Egyptian media didn’t dare do the same with say “Olmert” who was actually responsible for the massacre!

The media have prepared the scene for the government to deal the final blow, which the government theatrically acted out last Wednesday.

Now whether the arrests and accusation are true, or another fabrication by our “National Security” mongers, I really couldn’t care less!!!

To be honest, I don’t find it surprising at all that there are Hezbollah operatives in Egypt!
Of course there are! What? Do they think the weapons and ammunitions have been getting into Gaza through thin air? These same operatives who have been trafficking weapons and supplies throughout the last 3 years, and even before that!

If the Government and it’s vigilant Security forces, did not know about those operatives, and are surprised by their existence, then we are in deep S**T!

Whether these operatives were plotting against Egypt or not, will never be found out, because bottom line, I don’t trust our “investigation” methods, (remember Heba and Nadine’s murder case, anyone?)

Nonetheless, I have some questions, for which I would like anyone to provide me a logical answer:

  • Did Hezbollah ever pull any terrorist operation here in Egypt?
  • Who were the ones responsible for the recent terrorist attacks on Al Azhar? And the similar ones that took place during the last three years? Hezbollah???
  • Why now? Hezbollah have been around since the 80’s and have never attempted to “plot against” or attack Egypt, not even during the High time of Egyptian terrorism… so why now?

I have to be clear on this, I’m not defending Nasrallah or Hezbollah… not by any stretch of means… Despite his heroic role in Lebanon’s war in 2006, Nasrallah afterwards made the gravest mistakes, which made him a questionable figure inside and outside Lebanon.

However, with that said, I also do not just swallow whatever is presented to me, especially if it is by the government or any institution related to it!

The Egyptian media wants us to believe that out of the blue, Hezbollah, decided to carry out terrorist operations on Egyptian grounds, and that they (the government) were able to step in just in time! Why??? Why the sudden change of Hezbollah’s agenda?

And more importantly I ask, with Hezbollah’s training and resources (which have somewhat proved themselves during recent years), and with the Egyptian Security forces recent precedents, in failing completely to prevent any of the terrorist attacks (which were carried out by small time terrorists) throughout the last 3 years, does the story above seem even logical?

OK, SUPPOSE IT IS TRUE!

SUPPOSE THAT BY SOME FAR STRETCH OF EVENTS, AND A SUDDEN FLUSH OF HATRED, HEZBOLLAH DECIDED TO ATTACK EGYPT!

Does this give the government and the government owned media to stoop down even lower than it already had and degrade itself further, by engaging in Name calling and a national cussing fit (Waslet Rad7)?

Have our government and media lost all respect to themselves and the people they represent?

Here are the headlines of the global and national newspapers:

The Daily News, Egypt: UPROAR OVER HEZBOLLAH LEADER’S TELEVISED SPEECH
Egypt is in uproar over the admittance of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that a man detained in Egypt is a member of the Shia resistance group.
In comments published in Al-Hayat newspaper Sunday, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said Egypt “will not allow any party, inside or outside Egypt, to endanger the lives of Egyptian citizens or jeopardize the national economy.”
“Egypt’s security is a red line that cannot be breached, touched or harmed. Egyptian security services are quite capable of protecting the domestic front,” he added.
The Egyptian state press has been in arms over Nasrallah’s comments, and has responded furiously.
Even Israel has waded into the argument, with its Transport Minister Yisrael Katz stated Monday that Nasrallah deserved to die for his actions.
“Nasrallah deserves death and I hope that those who know what to do with him will act and give him what he deserves,” he said.

Al-Gomhuria: Nasrallah “The Monkey Sheikh” is a criminal working for Iranian interests, he sacrificed the lives of Lebanese citizens in the 2006 war with Israel and the following Shia-Sunni clashes, dispelling his hero status.

Akhbar Al Youm: Nasrallah is a “war criminal”

(Nasrallah is a “war criminal”??? How bout Netanyahu, Livni, Olmert and Lieberman? Those are not war criminals, heh?)

Al-Ahram: Nasrallah’s comments, along with other irrefutable evidence, cements the intention of launching attacks on Egypt, in support of Gaza!

(Launching attacks on Egypt, in support of Gaza! ya3ni ehh? we ba3d ehh???)

Rose Al Yousef: Egypt must start proceedings to try him(Nasrallah) in an international court. He has admitted to the crime. He must be handed to the Lebanese government as a war criminal.

Reuters: Egypt state-controlled paper denounces Hezbollah and calls Nasrallah “monkey sheikh.”
CAIRO – An Egyptian state-controlled newspaper escalated Egypt’s dispute with the Lebanese group Hezbollah Sunday by calling its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a “monkey sheikh.”

Aljazeera: Hezbollah ‘plotted to attack Egypt’
Egypt has accused Hezbollah of plotting to attack tourists at resorts in the Sinai Peninsula – days after Cairo said 49 men had been arrested for allegedly being linked to the Lebanese armed political group.

BBC: Hezbollah confirms Egypt arrest
The leader of Lebanon’s Islamist Hezbollah movement has confirmed one of the group’s members is among 49 men accused of planning attacks in Egypt.
The Hezbollah member, Sami Shihab, had been trying to get military equipment into Gaza, Hassan Nasrallah said.
But he denied his organization was seeking to destabilize Egypt and called the allegations “lies”.

These were the global and national responds, and as saddening as they are, yet still, the more shameful is the Israeli press festival over the arrest news, which shows who are our government’s best friends now!

The Jerusalem Post wrote: Hizbullah plot to target Israelis in Sinai was ‘act of war’
Israeli and Egyptian officials said on Sunday that the Hizbullah agents whose arrests were announced by Cairo last week had been plotting to attack Israeli tourists at resorts in Sinai.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) declared that Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah had ordered the agents to “hit Israeli targets,” and that he hoped Nasrallah would pay the price for this “act of war.”
“He [Nasrallah] acknowledges that his men were involved in smuggling Iranian weapons into Gaza in order to hit Israel,” said Katz.

The Israel Post wrote: Cairo: Nasrallah trying to turn Egypt into Hizbullah ‘playground’
Egyptian officials have responded angrily to a recent speech by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which he admitted that the Lebanese terror group was smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip, telling the London-based Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat that “Nasrallah wants to turn Egypt into a playground like Lebanon.”
In an article published on Saturday, the officials blamed Nasrallah for “dragging Egypt into this situation” by letting his people enter Egypt “for satanic purposes.”

Haaretz: Egypt settled score with Hamas
Senior Palestinian source says Cairo has been waiting to put Islamist organization in its place even since gunmen stormed Rafah crossing in January 2007. Opportunity came when Hamas and Hizbullah crossed red line with funds and arms smuggling, he tells Ynet

Ynetnews: ‘Nasrallah a monkey sheikh’
Egyptian paper slams Hizbullah chief, says he ‘will burn’ should he threaten Egypt’s sovereignty
The state-owned al-Gomhouria newspaper said: “We do not allow you, monkey sheikh, to mock our judiciary, for you are a bandit and veteran criminal who killed your countrymen, but we will not allow you to threaten the security and safety of Egypt …and if you threaten its sovereignty, you will burn!”

It is really degrading and petty to see the government of our nation, bullying a political party (or a terrorist group, as they call Hezb-Allah). Just like it is disgraceful to see the same government having a grudge for a TV channel, and going after it, in every vulgar way possible.

And It’s even more shameful to see our “free” press, letting go of all decency, objectivity and joining in on the Hate fest.

Yesterday, “El Beit Betak” one of the most watched national talk show programs, which is broadcast on Egypt’s prime satellite channel, hosted a military analyst and the Editor of Al Ahram economical newspaper, and both hosts alongside the TV presenter, went all out and engaged in a 30 minutes of blasting show (Waslet Rad7), calling Nassarallah: the “phony Sheikh”, the “ignorant Sheikh”, the “fool Sheikh”, the “evil Sheikh”, the “wicked Sheikh”, the “villain Sheikh” and other vulgar profanities… finally calling him An “Armout” (hint)!!!

This is our Foreign policy? To verbally attack Foreign Political parties, Minorities and Foreign TV channels, while leaving enemy countries ravel at our borders?

This is how low and cheap we stooped, a bitter dwarf nation ruled by a bitter and small government, criticized by every other “respectful” country, and cheered by a criminal and murderous regime…?!

Foot note1:

Reuters reports that President Hosni Mubarak told Lebanon’s prime minister in a phone call on Sunday that “Egypt will not allow anyone to violate its borders or destabilize the country.”
I add a small correction: “Egypt will not allow anyone to violate its borders or destabilize the country, except for Israel, who are free to bomb our borders, occasionally kill our border guards (by mistake of course), and violate our air zone”

Hasbi Allah… wa nee’m al Wakil

(the above is a religious statement, used commonly by Muslims to express disappointment… By no means should it be understood or interpreted that I am a member of the “terrorist cell”)

Foot note2:
The title of this post refers to fictional monkeys and a fictional lioness, it should not be projected to anyone or anything else, and should not be taken out of context!

No Parliament, No cry!

On the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes (Fox) sought to humiliate and end the English Monarchy, by blowing up the House of Parliament, in what is now known as “The Gunpowder treason and plot”. Guy Fawkes plot failed and he was arrested that night and executed on the 31st of January 1606. The 5th of November, now known as the Bonfire Night, is still celebrated in England till present day, some celebrate the plot’s failure, others celebrate the attempt.

Here in modern day Egypt we do not need an evil perpetrator to humiliate us, we humiliate ourselves. Tuesday the 19th of August 2008 should go down in Egyptian history as the ultimate celebration of our failure as a nation, the day we lost our dignity to fire, smoke and incompetence.

Yesterday a massive fire ravaged the 19th century palace that housed the upper house of Egypt’s parliament (Shura Council). Flames started from the roof and within the course of two hours worked its way downwards through the building; soon enough the blaze soared upward from the top floor of the three-story building, and much of the interior appeared gutted.

It took the first fire truck to an hour and a half to arrive at the site and Yahoo! News reports that: “While firefighters focused on one corner of the building, the blaze burned unabated on the other side, spreading to the second floor with periodic explosions and showers of sparks…. Hours after the fire erupted only three trucks were hosing down the building, apparently due to water shortages.” Meanwhile Al Jazeera was showing comical footage of two army helicopters scooping water from the Nile River to and blindly pouring  it over the blaze site, of course without any immediate (or non immediate) effect.

Come dusk, downtown Cairo was covered in a cloud of thick black smoke; smoke billowed over the metropolitan capital and could be seen from as far as Maadi district. The once prestigious building have miraculously (or in this case tragically) turned into an uncontrollable inferno, and the poor Egyptian fire fighters aided by the army and national security forces were unable to do anything to save the building.

Later on, parts of the buildings ceiling collapsed and news reporters were quoting witnesses saying that the building was utterly destroyed and burnt to the ground. Parliament’s archive room, library and several large meeting chambers were all destroyed. Firefighters doused surrounding buildings with water to prevent them from igniting, but flames continued to rage past midnight.

Reportedly there were no casualties and less than 20 people were hospitalized, mostly workers and firefighters.

Twelve hours after the fire started, there was still no official word on the cause of the fire. However some security officials said they had ruled out terrorism, and that an electrical short-circuit had likely sparked the fire.

Now whether the building was set ablaze or not, that’s not the question right now -although honestly if it was arson, it would be a little more dignified and face saving-  the question is: How did our ever vigilant  police force and courageous fire fighters allow a symbol of the government, the nation and it’s dignity, which also happens to be a historical building, be burnt to the ground?

When asked about why the fire fighters couldn’t control the fire, Cairo governor Abdul Azim Wazir, the interior affairs ministry spokesmen and other officials, kept repeating to the reporters the same foolish ridiculous answer: “We have to put in mind that building is old and contains a lot of wood… Wood is an inflammable substance!”. No shit? Wood is flammable? That’s odd… I thought it was used in making fire matches because it was fireproof and fire-retardant. Obviously I was wrong, turns out that our governmental officials are the ones who are RETARDants.

We get the picture, the building is old, it contains a lot flammable substances, which means we have to be a little more careful, and fire proof the building in more efficient ways, especially when we are talking about the house of parliament (Think US Capitol).

As usual, the Egyptian government does not learn from its mistakes, here is a list of fires that took place in downtown area alone during the past years:

  • In the early 70’s the Royal Opera House was destroyed by fire
  • August 2005 a huge fire brought down a building in the downtown neighborhood of Abdin.
  • March 2007 Fire destroyed Cairo’s shanty town in downtown Cairo on Tuesday, leaving about 1,000 people homeless. A police officer said the fire was caused by (again) an electrical short circuit.

So where the hell is the surprise? Fire, eats out the structures of old buildings and brings them down… Did no one in the fire department know that before? All the more reasons to enforce fire-safety codes on old building as well as new ones!

I don’t care about the 91 fire trucks on site (as reported by Cairo governor), I care about how many of these trucks were actually fighting the fire, apparently not many according to global news agencies. The two army helicopters scooping water from the Nile were a tragically comic scene, is it really that hard to get fire fighting choppers these days? Especially that fires seems to be a recurring “incident” in Modern Egypt.

Yahoo! News reported: “Egypt requires some fire-safety measures in buildings, including fire extinguishers, but in general the rules are not strictly enforced.” Just as they reported after the Lauran building collapse that: “Buildings regularly collapse in Egypt.”

When will it end?

When will our government value the Egyptian citizens and their dignity?