Eighteen days and in Egypt the dream shifts, with the nightmare we once lived ending being replaced with visions of how we can rebuild our country.
Eighteen days of the establishment being obstinate, of altercations, of maneuvering and of their use of all means of deception. For eighteen days we lived, ate and slept in and of revolution. And then the flower of hope sprouted in full. Egypt finally awoke, and we fully understood what it could mean to feel free. Egypt realized that Mubarak had become distasteful in an abhorrent way, in an unprecedented way: Mubarak was unrivalled by even Ceausescu or Franco or Marcus. What Mubarak had done over thirty years was simply the systematic sabotage of everything and anything in Egypt.
But amid the joy we now have an abundance of despair because even after his death we will need one hundred years to rid ourselves of his legacy because he hit Egypt in the most precious thing you own: your ever-free soul. People thought that Japan and Germany were permanently destroyed in World War II — their infrastructure and their spirits had been completely ruined — but their memories of superiority and advancement remained, and they got out from under the rubble and impressed the world. But we in Egypt think that our loss may be more serious than theirs: Our consciousness has been deadened by decades of state terror, by lack of adequate food and medical care, by universities which graduate the illiterate, by a loss of national unity and by tolerating the Zionists and instead fighting with our fellow Arabs and Muslims.
Today we fear to find ships full of illegal Egyptian job-seekers sinking off the coast of Italy and Greece, but premature deaths has become normal to us. We are used to such waste, such impotence, such humiliation. And always left unsaid, but so strongly felt, is that every Egyptian remembers once it was the Italians and Greeks who came to Egypt to look for work, freedom and security. We look with a sigh at our brain drain, and we can say openly now that many of our most outstanding citizens were ostracized by the Mubarak regime, which preferred to keep us ignorant and stupid. We look among so many of his regime, whom we still fight to wrest power from their grip, because we know that Mubarak surrounded himself with the stupidest so that he could feel superior among them. We will not tolerate, we have proven, people such as ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq as he was just one of so many posts which were filled by people with fat bank accounts and even fatter criminal files.
For all of these reasons we squeezed our hearts to change, to go out to the unknown space of freedom and progress and justice far, far, far…. In my years of activism I (along with so many others) was trying to spread hope in our souls and to fight against that heavy internal grief which had paralyzed national movements in Egyptians and led us to accept our lack of human rights. Our souls were so heavy that even when Tunisia’s revolution succeeded many said we would never enjoy a similar revolution, due to the scope of Mubarak’s sabotage.
Truly, and sadly, we did not think that our young people had such awareness, determination and willingness to shed their own blood. But what I saw in the early days of the revolt inspired some of the strangest yet delicious sensations I have ever experienced: Where did these young people — with their collapsed education, callow media, polluted water and food — get all this willpower and altruism? Was this desire to sacrifice secretly planted in the selfishness and villainy of our so-called leaders? And how did they acquire such high moral character which raised them above pain, allowing them to ignore their wounds and continue to insist on a peaceful revolution? Peaceful, yes peaceful, always peaceful, forever peaceful! Peaceful even when they fired live bullets and bombs, swooped down on them horses and camels (the true animals were the ones on top) armed with knives and swords and Molotov cocktails? And still more beautifully bizarre questions. Where do they get all this sense of civic pride to immediately clean and purify the field of the martyrs, heroes and revolutionaries. Truly, they were the pure ones, even though they had to topple a mountain of garbage, death and sadness.
It shocked the world, it thrilled me and I venture to say that it even surprised the young people who themselves where the revolution, who perhaps cannot comprehend all the power and magnificence which has characterized our revolution. We feel that the movement confirms that the genius of the Egyptian people comes from our culture, but also that no one truly can find the source of the headwaters of greatness.
And yet we still have Mubarak on our soil. It seems his body, racked with disease, is reflecting the calcification and mold that characterized his decades of rule. His government was so capricious, inept and inscrutable that we sometimes wondered if this man does not live with us on this planet. Do you see sense in his actions? I have certainly seen Mubarak driven others senseless. At Liberation Square, when the blessed word came that he was leaving, I saw the unbridled hysteria that the man pushed them to. But there were also millions who wept bitterly, and these people still feel that fire when we see the remnants of Mubarak’s regime continue to stay in office. The world sees: we are still liberating Egypt, and we will continue to win.
I used to say that “Egypt is not my mother… it’s my father”. What I meant was that an Egypt that is ruled by masters of organized crime cannot be called a mother.
But my mother has returned – imagine our joy. I encourage my Arab brothers, and those suffering everywhere under tyranny, to seek their own family reunion. I don’t know my Mother very well yet — it has been a long a time — but with the continued prosecution of the criminal gang, who will be forced to comply with our demands, and as we remove all symbols of the former regime, I can truly say that Egypt is my mother personified.