It’s Not Over
In her first column for Sampsonia Way, Nasreen Salem speculates that Egypt’s revolution is still ongoing.
Since the military coup against the democratically elected President Mursi in 2013, it has been easy to lose heart when observing news coming out of Egypt. Mass arrests, unfair military and courtroom trials, prisoners’ hunger strikes largely ignored, conspiracy theories, and the provocation and deliberate targeting of foreign journalists, hardly indicate a democratic state – even a mediocre one — in the making. Calls for “bread, freedom, and social justice” have quieted into inner whispers that even social media cannot give voice to anymore.
- A Thousand and One Cries will use a literary edge to reflect on Middle Eastern cultural and political trends, paying special attention to the condition of women and other minorities in Egypt.
- Nesreen Salem writes fiction and commentary on political and cultural affairs in Egypt and the Middle East. Although her heart is in Alexandria, the city of her birth, she lives in England. There, she works as the Egyptian Feminist Union’s UK Coordinator and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Essex. Her field of research includes history, feminism, myths, legends, and fairy tales. Currently, she is writing her first novel and a collection of poetry.
But there is still anger. There is a vibration on the surface of the stagnation that has seized Egyptian political life, and those listening where there was once no sound can feel its frequency. Even those who loudly claim they’ve voted for el-Sisi as president will whisper, when they feel safe: “We voted for him, but….”
Who killed the protestors? Why have Mubarak and his cronies been allowed to walk free after three decades of unabashed corruption? These are questions left unanswered and acquittals that will forever haunt the Egyptian people. Egypt’s citizens are watching closely, and they will not let another leader get away like his predecessor without, at least, questioning. Unanswerable questions, such as why the Interior Ministry so brutally murdered Khalid Said, and why his killers were not punished, were the aorta of January 25, 2011.
Although it may seem like the spirit of the revolution has lost its breath, it may be catching it again. Every now and then — and more often than not — I hear the growls of small, inner revolutions, and then I’m reminded that it only takes a pebble to start an avalanche.
Revolutions are romantic, violently passionate. They are ideal at heart, full of the valor reminiscent of heroic art and literature. Yet, they fail to deliver a gleaming ending. However, as Oscar Wilde notably wrote: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” In reality, heroes have fallen and their masks have broken, and many have diverged from the ideals they once knew and trusted before the revolution, choosing instead to pave their own paths.
The revolution remains as it was conceived: center-less and formless, but it continues to breath a life of its own, with laws of its own, flowing in the bloodstream of those who afforded it unity and expression. There are those who are still living it, strongly; feeding the umbilical cord that ties our humanity together across borders. Small revolutions in the form of personal upheavals have been – and are still – happening since the end of the 18-day sit-in. And that’s the true start of a real revolution.
I see it. Daily. I feel its mark in the history of our collective consciousness. People, both political and apolitical, measure their years by the revolution’s date. It’s as though life before January 25 was lost, and in the chaotic aftermath, was found again, even if it has since scattered.
Something woke up in Egypt and cannot be put to sleep. January 25, 2011 may not have brought the change the people sought, but it did succeed in creating a space for merciless questioning.