Revolution Egypt

by    /  May 7, 2012  / 2 Comments

Egyptian Revolution

Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.

I write to you, dear readers, expecting you to ask me questions like: “Hamdy, what happened in Egypt, and why? Where are Egyptians heading? What direction will the country take after being dormant for so many years? The only image we have of Egypt is the land of Pharaohs and ancient relics, can you tell us more? What is happening after the revolution?”

  1. Off-Screen
  2. “From Egypt” attempts to draw a cultural map of Egypt and the Arab world by profiling the artistic, literary, and political issues that affect the region via on-the-ground coverage of current events, publications, and the fight for freedom of expression.
  3. Hamdy el Gazzar
  4. Hamdy El-Gazzar is an Egyptian writer and one of the 39 young Arab writers included in the Beirut 39 Project. His first novel, Sihr Aswad (Dar Merit, 2005) won the prestigious Sawaris Award, and was subsequently translated by Humphrey Davies (Black Magic, AUC Press, 2007). His second novel, Ladhdhat Sirriyya (Secret Pleasures) was published by Dar al-Dar in 2008. He is currently working on a third novel.

In the future I will tell you more about Egypt’s culture, art, and literature. But I would like to start this series of columns with a basic cultural explanation of Egyptian current events.

Egyptian culture incites love, not violence. The popular late Egyptian poet, playwright, and cartoonist Salah Jaheen illustrates this with two lines:

“How wonderful life is
Even in the form of a worm in its hollow.”

The ancient Egyptians invented immortality after life. They saw the afterlife as their ultimate goal, and their greatest ambition. In the hereafter they believed there would be pure beauty, pure bliss, and most importantly, no pain.

Egyptians believe there is no need to complain about worldly pains because they go away when we make it to the other side. Egyptians’ hatred of bloodshed in the Revolution—a process of human rights, freedom and justice—emanates from that belief in the hereafter. If the long-overdue revolution against the tyrannical regime in Egypt started, it was because Mubarak became a deterrent to Egyptian values and life itself.

Mubarak’s reign, corruption, and oppression devastated the country. His, or his son Gamal’s, continued leadership meant the assassination of all hope in life. That´s why the Egyptian youth revolted, illustrating an ability to dream and a dream for change at a moment when authoritarian rule jeopardized social equity and our ability to survive as a people.

All of the above doesn’t overshadow the fact that the Tunisian revolution was an inspiration and a model for the Egyptian people. It was an incentive for Egyptians to take to the squares and call for humanity, dignity, and the right to a just existence. In my mind, these will continue to be the Egyptian people’s main demands as they work towards a modern Egypt that embodies the tenets of a great revolution.

Translation: Nour Abdelghani

2 Comments on "Revolution Egypt"

  1. Cassandra May 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm ·

    Assalamu Alaykum Hamdy,

    Welcome to America! I’m always happy to hear about Egyptians here in Pittsburgh. I traveled to Egypt last year and lived there for about four and a half months. So, it’s safe to say that, for me, your country is more than pyramids and mummies. (Personally, I didn’t like that stuff… I did like the Museum of Islamic Art 🙂 )

    My questions involve Egyptian women. Women’s issues matter a great deal to me because I am a woman myself. Plus, it angers me when I see (or hear about) women and girls in the US, in Egypt, and all around the world abused as a result of their gender. I’m sure you read Mona Eltahawy’s recent article that angered many people here in the “west” and in the Arab world for many reasons. One thing that I wish she had focused more on is what Egyptian men and women (and Arabs, in general) are doing to improve women’s position in society. What is being done at a grass-roots level? While in Egypt, there were certainly many protests…I know some women are discussing women’s issues. But what is being done beyond that? How are men getting involved? Do you know if there are community efforts to get rid of sexual harassment? Sexual harassment is something that matters to me. While I was in Egypt, it affected me a great deal.

    Likewise, what efforts are being done to improve Egypt? Not just the protests… I know of some things… There was an organization that I volunteered at in Heliopolis (for a very short period) that works to help Egyptians with English and other language skills. One of my students is working at an organization with high aims–offering art classes, language classes, career skills, etc. etc. Can you tell us about organizations that you know about? I want to know how Egyptians are working together. I think that this is important in order to keep up the morale and achieving all that Egyptians want for your country.

    Shukran!! I really hope that you enjoy your stay in Amreeka.

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