Saturday, 31 December 2011

A personal memoir of 2011 & the Arab Spring

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. It was the age of foolishness, it was the age of wisdom. It was the epoch of incredulity, it was the epoch of belief. It was the season of Darkness, it was the season of Light. It was the winter of despair, it was the spring of hope.
Edited Introduction of “A Tale of Two Cities”, set at the outset of the French Revolution

Couldn't find a better description for the seemingly-never-ending 2011.

The one thing that remained the same at its beginning & end, though, is our jealousy of Tunisians & our best wishes for them. May God always preserve them as a our role model to us all.

2011 was the year we all became Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian, Yemeni & Bahraini. When we are all demanding our basic rights, we remember that we suffer from the same issues & we remember our common destiny. And now that it's spread, you realize how much we have in common with people around the world. A lot of Arab Spring expressions entered our daily discourse. We also came to know a lot of words in different Arab dialects & names of cities & places like:
Sidi Bouzid
Benghzy – Sert - Misrata
Taiz – Saada – Abyan
Daraa – Hama – Homs – Banias
And now that we know them & identified with them, we shall never forget them.

We shared a lot of moments together; Bin Ali's flee, Mubarak's resignation, Sheikh Karadawi's khutba in Tahrir & hopes to pray in AlAqsa mosque, Qaddafi's fiery comic speeches, Saleh's running away to KSA then his coming back, Mubarak's trial, & the revolutionaries' entering of Tripoli. The pain to see the atrocities the Libyan people went through, however, & the Syrian & Yemeni people are going through on a daily basis is just overwhelming. It makes one feel quite helpless... We pray for each other. And we know there will be a time when all these nightmares will be over. And we will come out, stronger & united towards our common dream.

Personal thoughts
2011 was a year that I was blessed to share with a wonderful group of friends & colleagues. I carry a memory from 27/1, after we learned of the heavy police crackdown on Suez & the cutting of internet & cell phone lines, my colleagues wrote their home phone numbers on a piece of paper. And indeed, the internet & mobile lines were cut at midnight that day.

Looking back, I remember how my best friend & I almost always had the same views. I guess being the same age & sharing education, culture & upbringing matters.

The good thing about a difficult year is that it tells you who your friends are & who really cares. During that early week of the revolution with no internet, a cousin living outside Egypt called me almost every day. The day after thugs' attacks began, he called very early his time, & I could tell by his voice that he had just woken up.

I am happy with the friends I made during my trip to Turkey & the Arab Spring; friends that I hope I'll have for life.

While many people restrict their political involvement to sharing videos on fb which are mostly attacks on others or mockery, I found the most amazing thing this year to be meeting some of the thousands of smart, educated, active, & inspired Egyptian young people who share common values & now have a space to actually do something. I know we can change the world.

What people are made of
Another good thing about a difficult year is that it shows what people are made of. I claim that I was not surprised by the attitude of anyone I know nor a celebrity this year.
Say: "Everyone acts according to his own disposition: But your Lord knows best who it is that is best guided on the Way." -Verse 84 of "The Night Journey" chapter of the Quran

Most of us were shaken at times by the events, thrown off balance, unable to think clearly, & organize priorities. I would say the ability to think with a clear mind is what we need most. So whether you think you do or whether you base opinions on being scared or tired of all of it, try to revise your thinking methods.

Anyone who isn't confused really doesn't underst& the situation. -Edward Murrow, American broadcast journalist

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices -Edward Murrow

At the end
Despite the difficulties & setbacks, we go on our way, trying to remain focused & not waiting for immediate results. That's the spirit of devotion, right?

We had thought we would live in oppression & injustice all our lives. We knew there would come a day when this nation would rise, but we thought it was so far away. But God destined this day to come at our hands. And for this we will be forever thankful.
And now.. brace yourselves for another year...

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