Our guest author today, writing from Cairo, is Kamal Abbas, general coordinator of Egypt’s Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS), who last year accepted the AFL-CIO’s 2009 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award on behalf of Egypt’s independent labor movement. The article is reprinted, with permission.
Now, I am proud to be Egyptian. I can sit in the evening among my children and grandchildren and tell them the story of the revolution; the story of boys and girls who refused the injustice and tyranny under which we have lived for years and years. I will tell them the story of Mohamed and Boulis [Peter]: the two boys who stood one against the other, each of whom hates and wants to destroy the other ... I will tell them how Boulis and Mohamed stood shoulder to shoulder confronting tyranny. I will tell them how Muslims protected churches against the violence of the regime’s thugs and how Christians guarded Muslims while they performed their prayers in Tahrir [Liberation] Square.
I will tell them that I have no explanation except that this infamous regime made us reveal our worst part. I will tell my children and grandchildren how thousands, or rather tens of thousands, including young and very beautiful girls demonstrated and that those beautiful girls were not harassed. I will tell them that young males used to listen to the speeches of young females and received orders from them to keep order during the sit-in.
I will tell them again and again the stories which we told each other when we were sitting on the curbs or in the middle of Tahrir Square and how we laughed mockingly when the regime stooges described us hirelings: that we received orders from the USA and Iran, and that fast food meals are provided to us from Kentucky Fried Chicken [a valued meal in Egypt]. I will tell them how we received the news that the regime was falling and how “rams” [cabinet ministers forced to resign] were driven to the slaughterhouses to be sacrificed to save the regime!
I will make them laugh very much when I tell them our jokes and comments when we saw the photos of “rams” on the front pages of newspapers. I will tell them about the parties we made and the poems we heard, how we danced enthusiastically when we heard the music, which we heard before but did not feel when we were in despair. I will tell them the love stories which were born in the square and the marriage parties.
I will tell them about the Sunday mass and how charming were the hymns chanted by Muslims and Christians all together. I will tell them about the Muslim prayers for the souls of the martyrs. I will cry. Yes, I will cry when I remember the mother of a martyr who overcame her grief and came to support us.
I do not want anyone to apologize for accusing me of yielding to tyranny. I do not want an apology for describing us as a people who can only bear with humiliation, generation after generation, and that our history is a witness that we were subject to several tyrants of the world.
I do not want anyone to apologize that he did not hear me or did not care when I said that we are neither a submissive nor a dormant people. But we are patient. And everyone should take care when we become impatient. And I will forget their sarcastic smile in response to such words.
I want no apology from those who did not believe us when we said that heralds of revolution are seen in the Egyptian skies: look for them in the workers’ strikes and sit-ins and in the protests of the poor and the oppressed.
I only want them to listen to our story; the story of the revolution of anger, the revolution of the Egyptian youth who came from the virtual world to Tahrir Square on 25th January 2011.
It is the story of the youth who came from the poor and the rich classes raising up one flag – the flag of freedom – and turned Tahrir Square from a place which witnessed how the police treated Egyptians brutally and harassed female protesters to a square for freedom, where the revolutionists stay and teams of young men and women defend its entrances. The square attracted the attention and respect of the whole world. It has become the Square of Freedom, the castle of the revolution and its emblem. The young revolutionists, armed only with faith, managed to defeat the assaults of the regime’s thugs.
Thousands were injured in this square. The noble blood of the martyrs which covered its roads and curbs made us stronger and more insistent on taking one road, the road to freedom, and to raise one flag carrying one sentence: “The people want to overthrow this regime."