Identity Magazine: Special Coverage – Interview with Kareem Amer and Ahmed Ayad #Jan25 #Egypt

Date posted: March 15, 2011


 

Identity Magazine: Marwa Rakha's Special #Jan25 Revolution Coverage

March/April 2011

Kareem Amer– Alexandria (Blogger and Activist)

 

 

Before January 25 I believed that change was only possible through elections. I had no hope in the street or Egyptian people. I have seen enough apathy in people to kill any hope of a serious movement! I took part in the elections in 2005 and I saw how people feared even the thought of voting for someone else other than President Mubarak – even when the voting panels were in a closed room behind a black curtain! Fear found a comfortable home in the hearts of Egyptians. I have also witnessed first had how elections were being forged and how results and votes were fake!

My theory on change was that we have to change the base – the wide base of the Egyptian population! Only when people changed, they could apply the necessary pressure on the regime to end corruption. During my prison time (I was detained for four years because I am a blogger), I obviously missed a lot! The people I met after I got out were so different from the people I knew before I got in! Before they were so apathetic but today they are so positive and strong! I would have never dreamed of an uprising by the people that would topple a president and his whole regime! Obviously I was mistaken when I did not get involved with the civil society again after I was released from prison a few months ago! I really had no hope! What surprised me the most is how the common ordinary un-politicized Egyptian became so aware f his basic rights as a human being and as an Egyptian citizen. I have to admit that the Tunisian revolution was an inspiration and a great trigger for our own revolution!

On January 25, I took my laptop and went to Alexandria Library where I could use their internet to keep track of the slow building up of the protests. I was shocked when the government began blocking sites like twitter and facebook but the library had satellite internet and I managed to stay on top of events. Until that very moment I still had no intention of taking part in the march! A call from a female friend who accused me of lethargy and apathy awakened the patriot within me! She told me that she was ill and that she left her son at home because she owes it to her country! I was embarrassed and decided to join – halfheartedly. We joined tens of thousands of protesters and bit by bit my skepticism wore off and I was recharged with the energy of the people in the street! I began chanting and calling for the end of the regime! We were faced by live ammunition and tear gas bombs from the police forces! They succeeded in dispersing our protest!

An hour and a half later, we managed to start another protest; a bigger stronger and more grounded march from the tram station in sporting to Al Ibrahimeya. The police cracked down on us again and we ran to the side streets.  We escaped and met again in Port Said Street. We marched to El Raml Station and Safeya Zaghloul Street.

The days to follow witnessed more vigorous protests joined by a lot of artists and celebrities. I will not get into the details of police brutality but I will just sum it up in one statement: against all human rights laws and treaties!  The Friday of Anger was the day Alexandria was destroyed! You could see signs of destruction everywhere; fires, burnt down buildings, burnt down cars, burnt down police stations and government building, and death was everywhere! I met a man who confirmed that he carried 7 dead bodies of protesters who were killed in Masr Station.

Every day was a new protest and every day more people joined!  On Wednesday (February 2) I hit the road to Cairo with my activist friend Samir Eshra. I wanted to join the protests in Tahrir when I got the news of thugs on horsebacks and camels trodding over protesters in the square. I tried to enter the square but all my attempts failed. The day after Samir and I succeeded and it felt great being in the heart of Cairo! In the heart of the demonstrations!  We spent the night there and witnessed history being written! On Sunday 6, Samir and I were arrested and detained because of breaking the curfew! We were released after 4 days – just in time to witness the downfall of Mubarak and his regime!

 

 

Identity Magazine: Marwa Rakha's Special #Jan25 Revolution Coverage

March/April 2011

Ahmed Ayad – Alexandria

 

 

On the Friday of Anger – January 28 – Alexandrian youth were either protesters or night-watchers. The protests were focused in three areas; Ka’ed Ibrahim mosque, Sidi Gaber station, and Sidi Bishr. After the massacre that took place on Wednesday – February 2 – the protesters exceeded one million and marched from the Library of Alexandria to Sidi Gaber Station filling the Corniche and the roads in between with chants against the regime. The numbers kept growing and growing and nothing would send us home other than the final announcement that President Mubarak stepped down.

The night-watchers, on the other hand, had to step in to fill the gaps the policemen left behind when they suddenly disappeared off the streets and the pillaging of the residence of the governor. The looting and vandalism was mainly focused on City Center outside Carrefour hypermarket, the government buildings, police stations, and the upscale residential areas of Kafr Abdu and Semouha.

 I joined the protests because I felt that the time was right to take a stance against corruption and change this country for the better.

Worst moments:

  1. The massacre that took place in Tahrir square on Wednesday when peaceful protesters were attacked by thugs on horsebacks and camels.
  2. The speech on February 10, when Mubarak said that he will not step down coupled with my own inability to reach Tahrir square that night out of fear that the military council was going to impose martial laws even though I was halfway to Cairo.

Best moments:

  1. Standing as a night guard with my neighbors to protect our families and homes.
  2. The moment Mubarak stepped down of course.

Lessons learnt:

  1. We should not fear to fight for our rights anymore
  2. The belief again in the goodness of the common Egyptian people
  3. To get more involved in my neighborhood 
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