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Unplugged

Unplug and disconnect – two verbs that refer to precisely what I had to do when reading about the current events in Tahrir Square; when it became all too much to bear. The fact of the matter is that I cry easily – my heart is easily stirred and my eyes involuntarily hit a switch where tears pour forth. I have no control over this whatsoever, and wiping away tears with my cardigan sleeves has been a recurrent action this week, and it reached a point where I thought, Khalas – bas keda! Enough.

It’s horrifying watching the news, seeing barbaric violence and total disregard for the sanctity of human life. This is not a case of drawing lots on religious or political leanings, it’s about the values that we hold as people – as humans.

I was present during the 25th January revolution, was evacuated and returned, and at every instance I knew that it was only the beginning of a bigger struggle. I will not get into the politics of Egypt for two main reasons:

1) I’m not an Egyptian, I didn’t live as an Egyptian under Mubarak’s regime and frankly I don’t know what it was like.

2) Whatever I say makes absolutely no difference to the lives of the people living through the revolution’s aftermath.

However, I will say that a true revolution takes more than presidential/ parliamentary/ military change – change begins at home, and thus there is the missing element: the revolution of the self.

And just as the fog that’s been hanging over the skies of London finally lifted today, I pray that the fog of sense is lifted from the eyes of SCAF, as well as the fog of deception to be lifted from the short-sighted who cannot see what the revolution should really be about.

Praying for peace, progress and security,

LaYinka S. (The Londoner)

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Too Close for Comfort

It was the most absurd thing to do. In fact, it was the very thing that we were told not to do, but we wanted to get reports from the ground rather than just from the latest reporter on the BBC.

There had been swarms of frustrated men, women and even children that had passed by our windows throughout the day and night. The roads were free of the usual honking of car horns, and all we heard were the occasional chants by straggling protesters on their way to Tahrir Square.

Air is what we needed, being cooped up indoors against one’s will has huge psychological consequences; coupled with the violation of a right to services paid for – namely, mobile phone and internet services – it makes for very angry people.

The night was cool, a gentle breeze was being picked off the Nile and ushered our way. We didn’t want to venture very far – just downstairs sat along the Corniche where protesters frequently passed. Of course, as we left our building to cross the road, the group of young men stationed on the corner did a lot of elbow-nudging and head nodding to get one another’s attention that two foreign women were out on the streets. We clearly did not look like we were going out to protest, N. was in her Bedouin skirt and Moroccan hat and I was wrapped in a cardigan, donning trainers and oversized cargo pants. We looked like we were popping out of the flat for milk, except there were no shops open for us to do so even if we wanted to.

It was 12.30am, which may seem rather late to most people in the world, yet Egyptians are still usually bustling up and down our stretch of the Corniche, with the petrol station buzzing with the activity of petrol-filling and windscreen washing. However, this was not a normal night under normal circumstances. It was eerily deserted and, dare I say it: quiet.

Where we sat gave us the view of weary protesters making their way home. I noticed that there were no black or white taxis transporting people to their chosen destinations, a formidably unusual sight. This led freedom-seekers to travel home on foot, despite the ridiculous distance their homes may be.

We were approached by a guy, whom neither of us paid attention to. He didn’t seem at all bothered that we’d ignored him, and he simply sat close-by, rolling up the right leg of his jeans above his knee. I kept tabs on him by watching him from the corner of my eye, and it was as he continued to roll his jeans leg up that I noticed a crimson circular lump just below his right knee. He’d been wounded.

I turned to face him to get a better look at what he was doing. There was hardly any light under the seated area we were in, and I watched as he attempted to inspect his wound. He muttered something I didn’t understand; I could only respond with, “eh?”

He stood up and limped over to the side we were sitting, showing us his leg. I asked how it happened, his blank expression and blinking of his eyes made it clear that he could not understand a word of English, so in broken Arabic and much arm gesturing he told us how his wound came about.

 

Our wounded friend

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