Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Martyrs... Our Heroes

This post is translated from Arabic. You can find the original Here  in the  words of blogger extraordinaire and activist Mona Seif

The Adel Imam You Should Know 
I met him at the doors of Zeinhom morgue, home to the bodies of all our fallen heroes. 

All he wanted was to take his son's body to Tahrir Square.  

To honor him with a funeral march and prayer in the Square that bore witness to his son's final hours and demise at the hands of the Ministry of Interior and Army goons.

We started to spread the word and rally for a march. The local crowd, however, advised the father against it, and so he left, along with the boy's mother.
But our paths were destined to cross again,  on the following Friday. The one we designated " Martyrs Friday."  

This time it was at the entrance of the  notorious Mohamed Mahmoud Street, home to the Egyptian Ministry of Interior,  where hundreds were injured and many lost their live ­—and most important where Adel's young life was snatched away from him.

We stood there staring at the list of Martyrs.

Hesitantly, he asked, "Is Adel's name on there somewhere?"

Confidently, I answered, "Of course it is." Then I started to scan for his name—Adel Imam.

"Here it! Here it is!" I pointed at the name excited. "Right up there, on the left."

He stared at the name and called out to his wife, Om Adel, " Adel's name is on the it is!" He said sobbing.

Adel's father only wanted recognition. He sought no compensation, no vain words,. His parents only wanted Adel be recognized as the hero and the martyr that he is. Instead, what they got is the constant denial of police authorities that live bullets were used. But they knew better. They saw the hole in their son's head with their own two eyes. 

The real story behind Adel Imam's death is a story we will not be hearing any time soon. We will not be hearing the truth as long we have notorious officials who dare stare at the bullet-laden bodies of the fallen and claim that no bullets were fired. As long as Egyptian national media only cares about the better-looking bourgeois of the revolutionary lot. A long as the international media insists on reducing the Egyptian revolution to social media and  As long as the media is obsessing over Islamophobia and ignoring anything else. 

We will never be reading  this story—the true story of Adel Imam —anywhere:

Adel Imam , a young manual worker, who went to Tahrir demonstrations behind his parents' back.
Adel Imam is a martyr who was murdered in cold bold on February 21st.
Adel Imam was killed with a bullet in his head, and a receipt in his pocket—a receipt for the medical supplies he bought, with the pennies he makes, for the Tahrir field hospital.

It thus remains our responsibility to spread the word and tell their stories. Tell their stories to our friends, our families, our children. Etch them in our memory so that we may never forget.

It is our responsibility to document the true history of our revolution. It is our responsibility to sing the names of the fallen heroes and hang their pictures everywhere...until one day we overcome,  or become one of these untold stories waiting to be sung.

The Adel Imam who doesnt matter

For those who ask when will the Egyptian revolution be complete, I answer: when "Adel Imam" becomes a name synonymous with this young hero and not a proregime hateful actor. 

Please pray for our unsung heroes... our martyrs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remember Remember the Dead and dismembered

Dear Justice, 

I am writing to you today because I have been told that you are blind--and so I am helping you see. 

I understand it is easy to overlook the weak and to further forget the forgotten because, well, they neither bark nor bite. 

But to continue  ignoring blindly those in need --Lady justice, that is just too cruel...even for you. 

Sometimes I fear that you. Lady justice, do not like freedom. Not only do you take it away from those you deem  'wrong-doers,' but also you do not extend you grace to those who fight for it. 
Do you not think that freedom fighters deserve to be avenged and defended and taken care of?
Photo Credit: Hossam Haplas Facebook Account.

Maybe you do...but you are just too blind to see. So I bring to your attention Randa, a young nurse who was beaten into paralysis by the goons of a dictator and mistreated in the hospitals of his successor. 

Randa was tending the wounded on a fateful night in Tahrir square, oblivious to the fact that she will never walk again. She sutured a wound and for that a policeman decided to give her a beating that will alter her life for ever. 

February 2nd was the last day Randa walked on her own two feet. With a shattered spinal cord and an old rusty wheel chair, Randa suffers from medical neglect and psychological abuse at the hands of the staff of the rehabilitation center. 

Do you think she deserves that Lady justice? 
Do you think fallen heroes and those who lost the normalcy of their lives deserve no swift retribution?

I know you don't. I am sure you don't. 

So please Lady justice, I beg of you, please do something--or we will all be doomed. 

A troubled human. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beware the Flogging You Driving Woman!

Lest you thought erroneously that the dark ages are a thing of the past, please be informed that just yesterday a woman was sentenced to ten whiplashes  because *drum roll* she was caught driving a car!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not. And this of course takes place in none other than the backward-minded "Kingdom."

I hate to refer to that country, where beloved Mecca and Medina lie, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because, like my very wise grandmother always said, no country should be name after its rulers.

How can women still face such cruel and demeaning corporeal punishment in the year 2011--and by order of a judge? What is wrong with the world?

And before you jump to conclusions about extremists and Islamic Sharia law, let me tell you that Saudi king and royalty are not as pious as they would like us to believe. They, and their beloved/favored ones, are out of the reach of said Sharia law. They do whatever the hell pleases them and in many instances have to travel far and wide to enjoy freedom.

So again the case of the Kingdom is merely a case of chauvinist pigs used religion to exercise their misogyny. It's an age old trick.  Watch the locked up housewives of Venice in the movie Dangerous Beauty do they remind you of someone?

Women of the Kingdom, fear not. You will see the light of freedom, soon I hope--in our lifetime. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Disillusionement and the Arab Spring

One of  most interesting Arab intellectuals on the blogging scene, Rami Zurayk, Professor of Ecosystem Management in the American University of Beirut, wrote a  piece on why he is not disillusioned with the Arab spring.

Now, it is only natural that I find his post intriguing. After all, disillusionment was one of  my most common states of mind--guess the hapless romantics all know what I am talking about.

There comes the time when you realize that there is no place for disillusionment, because all your worst fears are true. Utopia is truly nowhere, and happinness is more fleeting that a cigarette's wick.

This was precisely where I stood right before the Arab spring worked its magic on me. 

But then, like spring always does, the Arab spring gave way to a cruel and harsh summer--with bodies all over the place and hope no where in sight.

Zurayk argues that disillusionment is a natural state of affairs that one should embrace, as a part of the circle of life, rather than worry about it. He also firmly asserts that disillusioned with the Arab spring he is not and will never be. Why? because the Arab spring has remolded our societies perceptions and ended the infamous acquiescence of Arab people for all time. 

You cannot really argue with that. But the way I see it, oil monarchies are poison to the Arab's freedom springs. Rich corrupt kings do not freedom for their people--or their people's neighbors. They would like to see the dictator-free countries in a perpetuel state of chaos. So that they serve as cautionary tales for the people of the gulf--lest they dare seek freedom for themselves.  

This brings me back to the question: are YOU disillusioned with the Arab spring? Or do you see a dim light at the far end of the tunnel?

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Hope and Being Young

I found a quotations notebook from my teenage years the other day.

It started off  with stanza One of  Emily Dicknison's
 "Hope is the thing with feathers.
 That perches in the soul.
 And sings a tune-- without the words
 And never stops at all."

It was written up in beautiful colors with an elegant hand writing complete with decorative motifs and small happy scribbles. 

The notebook's was full of quotations, some attributed some not. I flipped through it without much attention--until I found that final page. 

I had not remembered collecting these quotes or making that notebook at all. But from the choice of first quote I had assumed that it was a happy teenage girl's little book--a guide to life, or something of the sort. 

Until I came across the last page.
The page held the last quote: 
"Contentement is when you finally realize that life is a gift, not a right." with a small circular drawing beside it, labeled "Vicious Circle of Wants and Needs."  The circle, scribbled in fading pencil strokes, showed how the "quest for happiness" leads to "unfullfillment" which, naturally, leads right back up to the "quest for happiness."

Then, a sad question a few lines down: "How can I break free?"

The answer was shocking: " God," circled in red.

I must have been fourteen or fifteen when I wrote the first quote. But I remember nothing of the circumstances of writing this one last page.  That page was not just a pious girl's quest for Nirvana, or a plan to relinquish material life. This is was the beginning of what was to be many years of learned helplessness.

I wonder who taught this young intelligent human being full of potential that she has to "stop wanting." Who taught her that happiness is bad? Why did she think that there was no use trying?

What happened between the first and the last pages, you may wonder. Well, the patriarchal misogynist Powers That Be had finally gotten the best of me. A very long story that I am sure I am going to tell someday, or even put it in a book. For many years I battled with this there-is-no-use mentality. Sometimes I won, but most of the time the Powers That Be had something entirely different in mind.

How did that story end? Well, I ultimately came out victorious! The Powers That Be are no longer in charge. I'm in charge!

But somewhere deep inside still lies that sad scared little girl. Is this why I was drawn to writing YA fiction about a girl who thought of herself no good but turned out to hold all the power? Perhaps. But maybe I also wrote it for my daughter, to tell her of all the things that she can be and all the things that she can do--if she chooses to.

The operative term here is "if she chooses to." This is a theme I will come back to time and time again in the Battle for Maat. Aya is not just someone who is fated by blood and heritage for greatness, she had to choose to be great. She will even defy common sense on many occasions because she wants to do what she feels is right and wants to find her own way.

"We are who we choose to be." The blind Seer tells Aya in the beginning of her journey. I believe in that wholeheartedly. Don't you?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Turning A Blind Eye

Today I write not about Egypt the Uprising, or the Battle for Maat.  Although I am pretty sure that Ma'at, had she been truly here, would not have left this disastrous situation go unchecked.

Today I write to you about the spreading famine in Somalia.

Somalis  are dying--dying of hunger and thirst. While we, the whole world, sit there watching.
What wretched nations have we become that we do not even care enough about the plight of our fellow human beings? Where is Somalia on the news I ask? Where is the media?

Are only the latest of entertainment news or flamboyant rock stars worthy of our Television hours? What about  malnourished children with bellies swollen and lost dreams?

The World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency operating in Somalia, reports "serious shortage of food" due to "severe funding shortage." And this is a UN organization speaking. They were forced to stretch the dwindling food supplies and are urging nations and individuals alike to donate to save the lives of those struck by hunger.

Now what pains me the most is that the reaction of the so-called 'Muslim' nations.
Somalia is a muslim country. Why on earth aren't the Gulf countries chipping in big time with their Oil money? Why is Saudi Arabia paying no attention whatsoever to the Somali crisis?  What is their excuse? The king is too busy squandering his money on Ramadan feasts and beautiful maidens ?
Update: Ok, so the great King donated a measly $60 million and launched a "National Fundraising Campaign." Who is he raising the funds me! He sure is rich enough to support ALL Somalians for the next 10 years if he wanted to. 

Muslims everywhere are now observing the month of Ramadan, a month of austerity and piety according to Islamic tradition.

A month where muslims are instructed to refrain from food and drink from sunrise till sunset, to instill in them compassion and sympathy for the pains of the hungry and poor everywhere. Ignoring the draught and famine in Somalia beats the Ramadan spirit people.
Update: Awareness raised and everybody is donating in Egypt. Most local Mosques are holding donation campaigns... even the poor are donating! Aren't they just awesome. 

I would like to take this opportunity to remind fasting muslims everywhere of Surat Al Balad (the City)  where it states unequivocally that one of the surest ways to heaven is through "feeding the hungry in a day of famine."

Donate NOW!
"But what can we do?" Some people ask.
For starters, you can donate money to your favorite humanitarian organization offering help to Somalians.
I am including a few links at the end of this post but they are by no means an exhaustive list.
And before you dismiss this issue as something which does not concern you, please remember that what goes around most certainly comes around... global weather patterns change and before the new ice age sets on you have no idea who might get all their waters dried up.

UNICEF donations

Doctors Without Borders donations

Islamic Relief Organization  donations

Oxfam America    donations

And, if, for whatever reason, you cannot donate. Please do not forget them in prayers. Do not turn a blind eye to the misery in the world... remember them, at least in your heart. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post by Aya Salaheldin: How It All Came into being

Hello everyone, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Aya Salaheldin and I am 16. 

Amira and I were working on an interview, but I hate answering questions... makes me feel like I'm on a test :-S 

And so the idea of a post came into being...

First, let me tell you about this website/blog. Amira has graciously agreed to host "the Battle for Ma'at" on her popular blog after we agreed to work on the book together. I do not have enough time, because of all the things that you'll find out about soon enough, to run a website full-time. AND I want to stay in the shadows. 

It would be dangerous if I were identified by the powers that be at this moment--the battle is still on and the struggle is full-fledged. 

I was a regular teen, until I realized that the world is far from what it seems. 

My account of the events that transpired in the week of  January 25th 2011 is presented in "Egypt: the Uprising." 

What is going on now, however, is an entirely different game-- you will hear about it soon... in time... when it is safe. 

Until then, stay strong my brethren(Amira is that a word? She nodded yes, great!) and remember: we, freedom fighters, shall eventually overcome. 

Disclaimer: this is a Character Interview (i.e an interview of a fictional character.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Print Copy of Egypt the Uprising

Now, finally, you can order a print copy of Egypt the Uprising

 click here  to get your copy now 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Author Interview: Writing Inspiration and other quirks

Check out my author interview over at Derek's cool blog .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tutankhamun's Trumpet

I wrote about it on BlogCritics: Steer Clear of the Trumpet of War  

Read... Comment...Share :) 

Egypt the Uprising A 5-star Read

Today is a major milestone for me, Egypt: The Uprising has received an Amazon review and a 5 STAR rating!

The book has been described as 
A fast-paced read, riddled with adventures and trials and problem-solving.

Reminiscent of "National treasure", this young adult book has a little of everything for reader - sibling rivalry and love, family dynamics, young crushes, loyalty, magic,fabled creatures and beings, strange worlds and journeys. 

National Treasure? Hmmm, funny my husband used the same reference.  I thought it was more along the lines of the Da Vinci Code ;)
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Egypt the Uprising is Available Ladies and Gents

Available for immediate download Click here

And soon on Nook, Apple iBookstore, and Google ereader. 

If you intend to read it on your computer download the pdf file :)

Happy reading! 

Update 02/06/2011: Also on Amazon (this is still the ebook or kindle edition) Click Here

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I will be adding all the Questions&Answers pertaining to my book "Egypt: The Uprising" and the series "Battle for Maat" , to this link

Feel free to post in the comments section or email me with any questions you'd like to see answered. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

When the Armed Reign Supreme

My friends and family from all over the world ask me: “how fares the Egyptian revolution?”

And in all honesty, I choke on the answer. I usually gulp down some coffee and stare into the empty space ahead and shake my head.

For those of you who don’t know, Egypt is now run by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). Does the name sound scary enough? Sounds pretty scary to me!

I’ve always been wary of those who are armed, especially if they reign supreme.

The Egyptian people, however, has a completely different view. Army tanks deployed on the streets of Tahrir square back in the Mubarak-days were greeted with loving chants. Army officers were being hugged by people from all walks of life. Tears of joys were in the eyes of many of the protestors who had once chanted “wahid, itnayn, el gayesh el masry fayn” which roughly translates to “ one … two … our army where are you?” The truly believed in the Egyptian Army as their savior and deliverer from the hellish grip of the brutal police.

“What the hell is wrong with these people,” I had asked .

“What do you mean what’s wrong with them?  Nothing is wrong with them, they’re welcoming our Army.” He said looking at me as if I had just landed from a different planet. “Our army. The army that has sworn to defend and protect us. The army that stands guard to keep Egypt safe.”

I still failed to understand the true reasons behind the love affair between Egyptians and the Army. Not because I had anything against them, but because I knew all too well that the disciplined army soldiers, who live and die by a sacred hierarchical structure, have no taste for democracy--or rights.

Mubarak stepped down, or rather was forced to step down by a yet-to-be-identified entity. And SCAF stepped up.

I immediately did not like this. Armed forces are trained to fight, not rule. It is just a simple as that. They undergo rigorous training that encourages blind obedience, suppresses individuality, fosters patriarchal world views, and teaches blindness to the rights of the one when it conflicts with the good of the many. And herein lies the rub!

SCAF’s current version of the good of the many involves keeping ex-president Mubarak in 5-star suite in a private Sharm El Sheikh hospital.

SCAF are just extending some courtesy to their ex-leader Mubarak, you say? You want us to let it go? Well, Mubarak has ordered the police to gun down protestors which resulted in the death and maiming of thousands of Egyptians, most of them young and still had a full life ahead of them. Mubarak lies in a 5-star hospital bed while the dead lie in their graves. Does that sound fair to you?

Egypt is spiraling down a very dark tunnel while our future is not revealed to us by the powers that be. Lack of transparency, camouflage-clothing inspired perhaps, is baffling us. When EXACTLY are the elections? Dates… numbers? No one knows for sure. Who’s voting? Rumor after rumor followed by a denial here and a confirmation there.

Civilians undergo military trials. While Mubarak, once the high commander of the Armed Forces, is being investigated by the Attorney General. Justice? I think not.

We seek justice for those who were wronged and we seek our long-lost freedom. That’s how I know we are on the side of righteousness.

May 27th is when we attempt to right the wrongs and walk-down the paths of Tahrir Square again. If you cannot join us, I beseech you, remember us in your prayers. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Novel Coming Right Up

Did you notice that awesome new mysterious background I have?

Have I been doin' something behind your back? ;p

Yes, 'tis true boys and gals, I've been up to something ...

I have been hiding out writing a novel.

It will be coming out in the beginning of June 2011 *fingers crossed.*

Want a sneak peak?

Here's the cover... 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Egypt's Sectarian Clashes : Same Misogynists Different Shit

It is with a heavy heart that I write today about the God-forsaken events that shook Egypt in Imbaba , a poor Cairo district. Two churchs were attacked and lives were lost. Egyptian precious lives.

Here I beg to argue that the root of all evils in Egyptian Sectarian tension is partiarchial misogynist attitudes that feed on tribal values and male chauvaunistic tendencies.

A woman is always at the heart of it all. Camilia , then Abir, and probably to be followed by many other unfortunate souls who are denied their rights to choose their lives, their destinies-- and of course , above all,  fall in love.

The story always goes like that: a woman, whatever her religion, defies the socio-cultural norms and makes a husband, brother or father angry. It is usually the story of  a woman seeking freedom from a shattered marriage; or a young girl looking for love in the arms of someone who happened to be from a different religion.
The angered opposed male figure starts to rally for his cause Matters then escalate into a frenzy.

Men are especially prone to going insane over anything that remotely touches on the hackeneyed concept of "sharaf" or honor-- which is coincidentally also our PM's last name. Their 'honor', naturally, is to keep their women nicely tucked away with halos of virtue and chastity , real or imaginary, hovering over their head.

Egyptians... Please grow up before Egypt burns to the ground!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Children of the Egyptian Revolution

This piece first appeared on the Imperfect Parent,
titled Tahrir Square Presents Children of the Egyptian Revolution

“Mommy! Don’t ‘Oust’ me! I am not an evil president.” Said my six year old as a reply to my “Allez! Oust! Au lit!” which is French for C’mon and get to bed right away. She associated the interjection ‘oust’ with the English verb she heard so many times from me, as well as on Television where news of attempts to ‘oust’ Mubarak, the evil Egyptian president, was all over. She said that to me in English then switched to Arabic to ask me if I can take her to Tahrir Square tomorrow.
The way she pronounced ‘Tahrir’ square made it clear, beyond any doubt, that she was truly Egyptian. The way she formed the “h” of Tahrir, the letter we represent phonetically as ‘7’ in our Arabic text messages, was impeccable. “Tahrir means Liberation in Arabic, is that why we chose this square mommy?” It was, in fact, just a coincidence--a very befitting one indeed. Liberation square witnessed the largest protests in Egyptian history. Protests which lead to the putting an end to the thirty-year reign of the dictator Hosni Mubarak and has set the country on a path for political reform.
Tuesday January 25th was the date it all started. My daughter woke up and sat next to me as I was watching live feed showing the protests. I explained to her that people are demonstrating because they want the president to leave because he is not a very fair person and he had done many things that are very wrong. She heard me talking on the phone to friends heading towards Tahrir and that was the first time she heard the word dictator-- or a deektaatoor as we would pronounce it in Arabic. She giggled because a ‘toor’ is a bull in Arabic, so to her, that was a funny way to insult someone. After I was off the phone she said to me, “I know why you call him a ‘tor’. It’s cuz he’s a bully right?” Her eyes sparkled and I did not want to burst her bubble. She spoke the whole sentence in Arabic except for the English word “bully.” She had made an interesting association between the word bully and ‘toor’ which in her mind meant bull. I though this quite amusing and wondered whether I should correct her at all.
“No honey, a ‘deektaatoor’ is called a dictator in English and has nothing to do with bulls. A dictator is someone who likes to hog power and authority all for himself, and he uses them to control people.”
“Aha! He IS a bully then! Told ya mommy.”   This exchange was again in English, and then we went on a discussion, in French, of the differences between ruling a country and being Mayor of ‘Toy Village’--her own imaginary make-belief play land. She did not think there was that much of a difference and so she firmly believed she can be an excellent choice for the next Egyptian president, like Cleopatra. The fact that Cleopatra was not a president did not matter too much to her. A person who rules a country, whether elected or not, should be just and fair. You can hardly argue with that.
Our trilingual conversation is just an example of the multiculturalism that exists in Egypt. We have French, Canadian, British, and American family members in our extended family. In fact, almost every family in Egypt has. And they all have backed up and supported our revolution.
This February, all the children of Egypt, like my daughter, are learning important lessons about freedom, courage and standing up for their rights--values which were only whispers prior to January 25th,2011.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Speechless in Tahrir Square

Blog about it Amira... write about it.
Well sometimes, the fact is, you are just speechless and utterly at a loss for words.

When history is being written, and we are there, we live it. I could not write about it while it was happening, I was too shaken--and too bitter at all those trying to abort the revolution.

When Mubarak stepped down, I wrote about it on Blogcritics.

And now there is so much to do--and so much to write about.

So let the journey begin....