Identity Magazine: Marwa Rakha's Special #Jan25 Revolution Coverage
Cindy Abdel Aziz – USA
Right before Friday of Anger (January 28), I published my Google number on Twitter and Facebook for people in Egypt who wanted to call me so I would tweet on their behalf after rumors of Internet being blocked in Egypt.
The next day, a British man named Anthony Lewis and goes by the Muslim name “Sylayman” called me on the number and requested that I report that a million man March for Tuesday, February 1, 2011was scheduled.
Antony (Sulayeman) became my live reporter from Tahrir square. He was at Tahrir on February 2, when pro-Mubarak thugs attacked peaceful protesters. Antony was providing me with live updates from Tahrir and I would report them on Twitter as we spoke. I tweeted his reports indicating that he was across from KFC at Tahrir and heading towards Taalat Harb square.
After calling back and forth a few times, he requested I called back in 10 minutes because he was getting ready to pray Isha prayers. I called Antony's cell phone as promised, but his phone was shut off. I thought it was odd but dismissed it as his phone battery dying.
During my calls with Anthony earlier, I could hear the screams of women, children and men as pro-Mubarak thugs attacked them. I urged Antony to return home and told him that Ben of CNN had reported an exit near the mosque (later confirmed that it wasn't safe!). Antony insisted that he will remain although I advised him otherwise. The situation had grown intense and there were reports from AlJazeera live that the thugs were targeting foreigners.
I called Antony several times after, but he didn't respond and his phone went dead soon after. I got very worried but decided to wait and see.
When his friends on Twitter had mentioned they couldn't find Antony and he was indeed missing, I felt an intense feeling of guilt. Although I had never met or spoken to Antony prior to all of this, I felt a great sense of responsibility and connection to him. The revolution in Egypt had become more personal than ever.
I contacted Antony's friend who had already spoken to the BBC and the British embassy to report that Antony and his doctor friend (British Egyptian man) were missing and I learned at the time that Antony was married with 2 children. It made me feel even tenser!
I passed on his name and description to a few twitter friends who have connections in Tahrir to find out what exactly happened.
Hours later, we finally found out that Antony was detained (along with other foreigners). I called him and this time he picked up. He was still detained under military police, but was given back his cell phone. He sounded battered and disoriented. He told me he was taken to a hotel and instructed not to leave.
He was blindfolded, beaten, and threatened at gun point to his head. Since he was not Egyptian, he wasn't interrogated as much, but his Egyptian British friend wasn't as lucky and was further interrogated.
I was relieved to hear Antony's voice and learn that he was safe.
It was hurtful to witness the murder of so many in Tahrir square while the world was watching silently. I felt helpless sitting in my comfortable home. I believe those days were one of the worst I've ever experienced.
My happiest moment must be the moment Mubarak left office. I was so proud to be Egyptian! I even took out my Egyptian passport with a promise to frame it.
I learned that freedom comes with a price. And the price was the lives of the hundreds who died for the freedom of the Egyptian people. I will never take my freedom for granted again and will forever remember those who died for Egypt's freedom.
I am hopeful for Egypt's future. I hope to see a different Egypt with minorities, women, children, and people with disabilities granted equal rights. I would like to see less religion in the play of politics and tolerance among the people. Along with a culture shift that is more positive, energetic and proactive. I anticipate an ugly battle for power to occur within the next year in Egypt. I can see a great divide but I am confident that Egypt will overcome all these difficulties and become 'Mother of the World' once again.