Sunday, 25 December 2011

Season's Greetings

It was a tragic day when a country's people shed blood, when women were beaten and humiliated and when a country's history was burnt down to the its own people, gone for generations past and future. Let's pray for freedom, change, dignity and social justice for the sake of all that was lost. Let's hope that Egypt's new history will be written in the dawn of democracy and that all that was lost was not lost in vain.  

Season's Greetings with hope for more peace and love in 2012. 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Egypt's Girls are a Red Line

A heart warming march by women in Tahrir in response to some of the recent violence against protesting women. 
Men formed a protective cordon around the women what seemed like a symbolic gesture to me.

Translation of Women's Chants:
The revolution's daughter is not stripped. Egypt's daughter is not stripped. Egypt's daughter is not stripped. Egypt's girls are a red line. Egypt's girls are a red line. Down with the ruling military. Down with the ruling military. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Why I didn't boycott the elections

Some people decided to boycott the elections, insinuating that voting was equal to selling out Tahrir while giving legitimacy to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the ruling military. While I was torn for a moment, I decided to vote in the end. This post attempts to explain why I decided to vote and why one does not have to come at the expense of the other.

I voted because I wanted to participate in this historic moment. Like many Egyptians, I was excited to take part in this process and I wanted to give my preferred candidate the chance to get into parliament. By voting, I could play a small role in shaping the future of Egypt.

By being inside parliament, you have your ears to the ground. You have access to decision makers and you can monitor what is going on. By excluding yourself from this process, you give all the cards to the opposition. Whoever boycotted the process, boycotted the possibility of influence inside parliament, no matter how limited that influence might be. I understand the process is not perfect and that parliament will lack the power to make much change, but it's a first step towards exercising my right as a citizen. 

The road to democracy is a long journey ahead and where would we be without hope and optimism? Let's recall for a moment that advanced democracies did not get there over night. And they're not ideal examples either. The occupy movement proves it. 

So while the naysayers were boycotting the elections, and dampening the experience of those that decided to vote, I was looking at it differently. For the first time in 60 years, Egyptians were happy to have a say in the future of their country, as they cued for endless hours outside polling stations, optimistically looking towards a new future. And there was a merit in participating. People were consciously engaging with their rights as citizens, a further step towards citizenship in a democracy. 

So while some people look sceptically at those that voted and while those that voted think Tahrir should pack up and go home, I say, why can't the two work together? A healthy democracy should encourage participation in a variety of ways. The street is one way. Parliament is another way. Why does one have to exclude the other? Surely both voices are legitimate. Why can't both voices unite to ensure we don't fall back into old habits, paving the way for new dictatorships along the way?

Tahrir and parliament should work together in an ideal democracy, so that people continue to feel empowered. A friend of mine once said, Tahrir is like a platform that can hold the government accountable. It's also a place where people experience the meaning of democracy. Let's take a moment to remember, we got here thanks to Tahrir.