a feminist's notes from Egypt

Fatma Emam's picture

Here are some of my recent thoughts and posts from inside the demonstrations and regime change in Egypt.

- fatma emam

101 protesting

 



Day one
After the crisis of explosion of the church in Alexandria , there was something in the air, there are many pressures to change the eternal statuesque.
An event was created by the adim of we are all Khalid Said page on Facebook, calling people to attend the fridy of anger on the the day of national celebration of the police on 25 of January.
I saw the event, but I thought it will be only the political activists place, but the reality proved the opposite it was unexampled day in the Egyptian history where hundred of thousands allover the country protested against Mubarak regime.
I was home, with my fear eating me alive and i think I have to admit that I never attended a protest , not or any political reason, but the fear was the only reason
I even did not join the front of defending Egyptian protesters , that my only experience in it was stressful .
So I decided that I will enjoy my comfortable  home and just help in spreading the word, but everyday I was thinking that I will regret it and this historical moment will by pass me.
I was struggling  in the middle of fear and refusal of missing the moment. Everyday I postponed I said tomorrow I will go.
Until I reached a moment that I thought it is critical, I went out of home secretly at 8 am while family was sleeping and I went to Hisham Mubarak law center , then to Tahrir square
It was Tuesday 1 of February, it was phenomenal , some reports said the protesters were million, I was cracking from the inside , the crowd , the chants and the huge signs .
I was very self conscious , I found it too hard to unite with the masses .
One example when the prayer time came , I did not pray, because I was afraid that the prayers was lead by the Muslim brotherhood , which was proved that the prayers were not political and felt also annoyed by the chants of some seculars calling to stop the prayers because it is Islamisation of the revolution . then in a better moment I realized that this is beauty of this revolution that everyone can express his \her opinion without judging others or preventing them
 So this is day one ---- 101 protesting  
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Day 2 The bloody day

 




After the second address of the nation by Mubark, we declared that will not accept these lame excuses of being in authority till his term ends, rage was in the air , we will topple Mubarak down, this is the only motive  
The National Democratic party and his government launched support demonstrations, to show that the peaceful protesters are not representatives of the Egyptian nation . it roamed all the streets of Down Town  and they attacked Dr Mohamed el Baradi in a very nasty way.
It was a quiet day in the beginning , then it turned into hell, the NDP thugs started eradicating the protesters by using knifes , daggers and sticks , the injuries were fatal , the protesters fought for their life and they defended their  liberated land of Tahrir square .
I was in away working on translating some the information, I was terrified , I did not watch TV to avoid seeing the injuries
The protesters were very organized , they started a crisis hospital, the doctors were trying to help the injured with very limited resources, it was another angle where you can see the  precious  essence of the Egyptian nation .
Then came the role of the protesters in securing the supplies to the injured people , sometimes they were allowed sometimes they were not .
In this day, I was very cold blooded , I was updating the names of the injured and martyrs in peace without falling victim for sadness or anger , and the main reason of that was having the best group of friends ever, and all the team working with e, who decided that we are all related and connected and we will pull any one before he fals.
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Day three The great escape


The 3 of February marks an important development in the Egyptian revolution which is the arrest of the Human Rights activist , the military police broke through  Hisham Mubrak law center and the Egyptian center of economic and social rights , and there were thugs down the building and they attacked the arrested  activists and the thugs told the residents of the streets that they the activist are agents of Iran and Hizboallah to create public rage against those activists  and to create potential danger for anyone who come to ask about them.

 today early in the morning we decided to see the Tahrir square after the massacre. I was astonished to find these numbers , the protesters did not leave their places even after the killings of yesterday, the chants were loud and I felt that even if we died all in this square we wrote a line in the Egyptian history that will never be forgotten or erased .
By the afternoon we were tired and we needed food and rest, so we started searching for a safe place and it took around three hours walking through Down Town area .
Then we found this place where I am now and it took a nap after three days of sleep deprive and started bloggin.
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The revolution is not only in Tahrir it is in every Egyptian house , it is the revolution of fighting the patrirch as Hind said. In this revolution the women fought for their private and public life and this is the core of our feminist struggle as Mozn said.


I know many stories where women fought against their families to participate in the revolution , they were threat to be cut off financially or even that they will curse them and loss their blessings .

I will tell my story

I am the eldest daughter of a family of two girls and a boy, dad passed away in 1999, mum is is the main provider of the family, she is an example of dedication and hard work. However she is too patrirchal, she is not happy with my choices in work as a women rights researcher and she tried for several times to direct me to banking profession like her, I passes the test of the bank but I did not want to live with stupid numbers .

Add to this that mama ia diabetic and with very poor sight and she using this fact to force me to obey her.

In this revolution she was happy that I was a afraid and I did not want to participate , till I decided to change my behavior.

I wake up up early on 1 of February, it was the funeral of my aunt husband and all the extended family is gathered in the lobby of the building, I just walked between the crowd and told mama I am leaving, my relatives were worried that I will join the protest, they started nagging with her when I left, poor mama she was always trying to make sure that she raised good women and men, but sadly I do not fit in her standards or the extended family standards

She was calling me yelling and shouting and I was really stressed to I stopped replying back Khalto my aunt from mum side was way quieter I was was communicating with her and she conveyed my message to mama . and she threatened me that i will not be allowed to enter our house

My story is a very ordinary story , thousands of Egyptian girls had something in common with i.
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If you walked by Tahrir square you can easily know the places of Muslim Brotherhood, the women are in big covering veils. Yes their women are the significant sign, there many women in the square veiled and unveiled but the women of Muslim Brotherhood are just in one group praying behind the leaders and distributing the food.

I really hate fundamentalists; I had mixed feeling about the MB, I hate how they deal with their women, I hate the discourse of their women and how they happily accept the patriarchal norms of the group, they are following their enemy only for the agency they gain.

Also I hated how the west the MB to terrify everyone from coming Islamic revolution in Egypt, I think the situation is completely differently , Egypt is a country where we are fighting to change article two of the constitution , which stipulates that the Sharia is the primary source of the laws. there is huge rejection for the Islamisation of the state.


the game regulations are to respect the human rights and to accept the civil nature of society .


As an Islamic feminist, I disagree with this , I believe in a secular state, though not the Turkish state , in this state everyone express his /her beliefs .

I am a student of Dr Abdullahi el Naieem , and his believing secularis.
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I was in rage when I heard the speech of the supreme guide of Islamic revolution in Iran Khaminei , when he said that the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are Islamic revolutions inspired by the Iranian example .

I can not believe that a killer like Khaminei dare to say that Mubarak is a killer , they are both criminals and butchers , Khaminei approved the massacres of the Iranian people after the rigged elections in 2009 and Mubarak is systematically killing his people in various ways , the last time was in 2 of February in Tahrir square, when the NDP camels and horses chased the peaceful protesters .


I want to tell the so called supereme guide, Egypt is a civil country and our revolution is civil popular revolution, even if there some faces of Islamists, we are calling for reform and to form a civil society where everyone can express his /her point of view .

Egypt will never be lead by fundamentalists, we will resist this till the last breath we have, and I am saying it loud , that a fundamentalist system is never better than tyrant system, they both suffocate their people and violate their rights .
Egypt is looking forward for a civil system where everybody is equal and nobody can claim superiority

to be continued in a better tim.
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I was never a fan of the political participation projects, and I was convinced that it deal with the symptoms not will the illness , and that we need cultural shift to change the ratioo of the women participation in politics


The revolution of the 25 of January striked me hard for many reasons , it showed that if the women felt they are related to or  they belong to the country, I am proud to say that The Egyptian women are playing an extra ordinary role in the revolution , they are fighting for private and public rights, they are claiming their rights as equal citizens in this country.

When I was in Tahrir, I saw young and old women, veiled women and non veiled women, and political oriented women and non political women.

I saw them side to side to the men, they did not listen to the traditional calls that Tahrir is not a place for women .

I saw the Egyptian women doing untraditional roles in organising , stargising. Spreading the information and leading the revolution. They were in everywhere writing new line of the herstory of women.

I was even astonished that the Muslim Brotherhood with there covering ultra religious veil are in Tahrir staying outside their houses in the cold nights protesting, I hope this will ne a turning point in the MB way of approaching women rights issues

I am happy that I belong to the Egyptian feminsit movement, I believed for long time that women are perservers of the traditions, now I believe that they are radical enough to smash any rule

to be continued in better moment.
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i have to say that the 25 of January revolution is phenomenal in all senses, but today was my happiest moment.
there was Nubian demonstration in Tahrir square , chanting in Nubian "Dafi.... Dafi ...Woh Mubark" which is Mubarak leave . i felt very proud, that the Nubian  people who have been away exculded and alientated, are caliming their citizenship, we are not caliming cultural rights or economics rights , we are fighting to prove that we are enjoying full Egyptian citizenship , however the demonstration was women free !!!!!
they are rebelling against a system who denied their rights and neglected their cause
this demonstration brought tears to my eyes and i felt very proud to belong to such people .
Dafi.. Dafi... Woh Mubara
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Do women have to fight all the time to gain their rights, while men get everything for granted ?
i felt this feeling today 11 of February .
i drank alot of water, so i needed a bathroom, i searched in Tahrir square with no luck, then i thought that the resturants of the square might be used for theor bathrooms.
i found one, it was super busy, it is all men, getting ready for Gom'a prayers .
when i entered the resturant, they all shouted , there is no place fpr women, i did not engage a dialogue, i stood up silenet, may be a wise man can talk with me and that what happened a young man came to me , saying this place is only for men i asked him do you know any other place for women, he said i guess no.
i told him so i will use this bathroom, you know how many women are there in the square and we should use this facility .
he agreed with me easily and he told the other men that a women needs the bathroom and they should get out of it , i used the bathroom and i thanked him
what if i did not find that guy? could i resist all those men??
i really do not know
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Misr Hora....... Mubarak Bara (Egypt is free....Mubarak out)




Yesterday 11 of February  I left Tahrir at 4 pm, after seeing the phenomenal Nubian demonstration which brought tears to my eyes.

I was with my friend Yasmine and she was discussing with the taxi driver that the revolution might continue for 2 more weeks, I was terrified and I thought that the Jasmine revolution stayed for more tan 29 days.
I went to the internet café, started blogging for a while and then the formal TV announced that there is a address for the nation for the presidency headquarters, which was surrounded by protesters.
And the address came; Omar Suliman announced that Mubarak resigned from his position as a president of Egypt.
The address was too short, I was waiting for a continuation, but it never came.
I was stunned, I thought I will cry or I will laugh or run to the street I stay as I am , started getting calls from friends abroad, I was dieing  to call my Egyptian friends to make sure that it is not a maneuver , that as all the Egyptian nation I do not trust this regime.
But my fear was wrong and the pharaoh left his throne.
I do not know Egypt without him, I was born in 1982, he was in power in 1981, I know my childhood and adolescence when   his photo in my school classes and in the faculty auditoriums, he was the only face of Egypt, he is equated to the whole nation not as its representative.
I will know a new Egypt free from racism, sexism, classism and tyranny, I will see a country where the young capacities are appreciated, I will live in a country respecting the individualism of its citizens regardless the differences in age, ideology, class, sex, race, ethnicity and sex orientation
I am proud to say that my generation and I am in the late twenties wrote history, we change the path of history in Egypt and this will effect the Middle East and the world
Finally my beloved Egypt stay blessed, be safe and enjoy being free you did not experience this feeling since decades
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again the Veil..... Hijab


In my last post women in the revolution I classified the women in the Jan 25 revolution according to how covered they are, but I thought that the non veiled and the causal veiled and the ultra religious veiled constitute different categories .
However when a fellow young feminist expressed her astonishment about the role of the veiled women in the revolution and that there broke many taboos socially and religiously , I was offended because she had a very orientalist view of feminism, that veil is a constraint on the agency not only the sensuality and sexuality . I was also offended when I was doing an interview with international journalist and she asked me if I was veiled or not because I am an Islamic feminist.
As I felt offended I felt is about time to talk about veil, although it is a very old topic, we can debate whether it is religious obligation or socially and culturally obligated custom.
I can talk on my own experience I was veiled when I was 15 by my own free well, then I was introduced to the literature of the Islamic feminism in my mid twenties and I started believing that the veil is not religious obligation and that belief was strengthened when I meet my mentor Prof Amina Wadud who practice in her life wearing and unwearing the veil according to the situation, so she accept that it was stated in Quran and Sunna but they are not an obligation we will be accountable in front of Allah.i think it is so naive to think that a women is lacking agency only for wearing veil or she is liberated only for unwearing it.
I am still wearing my veil, it might look awkward because I lost the valid justification of wearing it which is the religious and I can fight, if I want to overcome the social obligation but I feel really that I am prevented from doing or being whatever I want and add to this that I knew my womanhood with a veil on my head.
sometimes i hate it , sometimes i feel i am claiming my rights to choose what i want with it , but in everyday i wish i would not be classified by an inch of clothes

update
there is a reply from my fellow young feminist i mentioned Maha el Aswad on this link

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