Decolonial Translation Group


Letter from an observer

(Original text by Ahmad Abdelhameed, of the observation network RNN)

This text was written following the initial protests in Tahrir Square, amidst the major Internet and phone blackouts, documenting the broad base of participants—both multigenerational and multiclass protestors—united against the Mubarak Regime. 


I just returned from a demonstration, extremely tired and very cold as a result of the water that they threw on us. But all that is not important, what I saw must be told and circulated among the people.

(I don’t even have the energy to write in classic Arabic...)

What I have witnessed today have been a series of impressing surprises, very impressing.

The first surprise was the amount of people that was there, just as it was seen on television. Everyone thought oneself that they would be the only one to go out on the streets; but it wasn’t like that.

The second surprise was that the majority of those that were out were youth, youth of today, of the ones that use Facebook; you could see in them that they were enjoying a relatively carefree situation. There were also many people of distinct professions: I have seen colleagues of mine from the faculty whom I had not seen in ten years. My attention was drawn to people going out onto the streets that apparently were not having as bad a time as the rest of the Egyptian people. 

The third surprise was that despite the majority of the people were youth, there were also a lot of older people and fifty-year-old ladies many of them marching at a slow pace, including some out with their kids. 

The fourth surprise was that young women were accompanying us, or to be more concrete, there were more young women than young men in our group... They were very educated young women - those that you see on the street and think they are of good families (!) - and you believe they would never walk on the street by themselves. But they were very brave young women and as strong as the best men present there. That called my attention.

The fifth surprise was we feared that someone would disrespect the young women that were in our group; but that was not the case. Everyone was very respectful, taking care especially of the young women.  (This indicates that the harassment that young women suffer generally when they walk through the streets is on the part of infiltrators from the Interior Department). 

The sixth surprise was that there was no violence, at all! When people began to attack the Central Security patrols that had attacked us with water canons, everyone began shouting: “peaceful march, peaceful, peaceful.”

The seventh surprise was that when the march arrived at Liberation Square and gathered there, there was people that began to pick up waste and trash, so that people would know we are a civilized people.

The eighth surprise was that when I looked around, I noticed that the area was effectively clean!

The ninth surprise I took was when one of the young women that was with us and who I did not know, began to swear by the Koran and by the Prophet.  The curious thing is that I later learned the young woman was Christian; but that did not matter. And it didn’t matter because in the end we all love our country and shouted for it to improve. Small differences do not matter.

The tenth surprise was the extent of pride and satisfaction that one feels when one screams with all their might in the name of Egypt; “Grand applause for Egypt, grand applause...” You shout the name of your country, the country you always dreamed you would live in for the rest of you life, without any one painting you or you painting yourself as a sensationalist or crazy.  And finally you announce that you love your country and without any trace of shame!

The eleventh surprise was that amidst all the fear and worries about what the apparatus of Security could do, you would raise your gaze towards the sky and with another twenty to thirty thousand souls you scream: “¡Allah is great. Oh, God!, and you remain satisfied, tranquil, because you have praised Him, and because you know that He will have you win. And he has done so...Thank you, oh, God!

The thirteenth surprise I had was that I took note that the youth of Egypt are the best, and without exaggeration: they are gentlemanly, brave, lovers of their country, very conscientious and with God in their hearts.

The fourteenth was that the loudest chants that people proclaimed in unison were those directed at Mubarak and to the Regime. The youth are very conscious and know perfectly what is the problem. The other chants did not have the same enthusiasm.

The fifteenth surprise I had was that we saw Ibrahim Issa carried on the shoulders of protestors with a love pure and clear. I also met up with Nawara Negm, I said hello and saw how there was tears of happiness in her eyes for the beauty of the act she was witnessing. Effectively, one who is respectful is so at all levels, and one who obeys God and not oneself, God will guide and guide very well.

The sixteenth surprise was that we approached Giza, and everytime they tried to stop us, we, with all that we were, would open a path: we passed by Mustafa Mahmoud Avenue, through the one of the Arab League in both directions, by Hero Ahmed Abdelazeez Avenue, by the Duki Plaza, by Liberation Avenue, by Opera arriving at Liberation Square.

Generally I was scared that something would happen to me, but there is no other option. We have to struggle against injustice. God sends us to struggle against all injustices... He did not create us only to adore him and to enjoy his virtues; God created us to habituate the Earth and to use his bounties to struggle against the unjust ones and also to spread Justice. Always He told us that our lives depend on Him alone, we have only to demonstrate our will, and He will help us.

You have to break with the fear and unite with those that defend Justice, Muslims and Christians. By chance do you not dream that our children are able to grow up in our Country, and that they develop grand projects at grand universities, or write a complex book?  It will always be better than this live that consumes us, and the work that stupefies us; yes, because we engage in trivial labor. Because whoever has a doctorate knows perfectly that anyone from outside is better than he; or that an engineer like I dreams at least in creating something complex, all his tasks are reduced to doing things that have been done a thousand times before, except for small details of no importance. And if someone wants to acquire money, they have to dedicate themselves to commerce or marketing... Or like those university professors that know perfectly well that what they teach has been seen before and is almost useless, and even if they have a good group, they know all too well that their students will not apply in their work even half of what they learn in the classrooms. They know perfectly that if their students would be off to work tomorrow, they would do so in something banal, just like they do so themselves. We do not have NASA, nor Harvard, nor Cleveland, nor do we have an MIT... We have to forget all that...

When I see my one-month old son I think even giving him a good education, he will probably end up like myself, worried about so much existing repugnance... Probably, he would also associate himself to a movement, to relief himself ... and then, only God knows what could happen... There is also the option of educating him without care, and then probably he will be delinquent or belong to a nationalist party... Or maybe migrate and then I will see him only once a year. But there is also the option of getting my hands dirty and constructing for him a dignified country.

The news say Security have managed to empty Liberation Square of protestors. Personally I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow, or the day after or after a month. Those people are like us, they protest because injustice hurts and does damage. There are people that have died, others that have been arrested; but they will carry forward because Liberty and Dignity they know well. Go out and unite with them, unite with Justice, be it in Liberation Square or anywhere else! Do not forget that everything is in the hands of God, your wealth, your health, your life... And do not forget either that all those who have given their lives in the protests, today are martyrs... probably they could have died at the same moment in a random accident, or for of any other stupid motive for which people die in Egypt.

The last surprise I have yet to mention, forgive me, is that Egypt is a respectful country, with a live people, and it now revolts for its Dignity. Recently the image of our people appeared on Al-Jazeera while it shouted openly and directly: “¡The people want to overthrow the Regime!”

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