Wendy's favorite quotes

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."— Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Egyptian Revolution--A View From the Inside, Part 3

We are visiting with Ahmed Nader Al-Gretly, a writer friend from Cairo, Egypt. See part 1 of the interview here.

I understand that the police disappeared around the same day that the prisons were opened. What did people think of that?

Horror. Sheer and utter horror filled all our hearts. Who did this? Why? How? The constant questioning and fear that echoed through the streets of Cairo on those days was just unspeakable. That’s when people formed “The Civilian Resistance”. On Saturday, the 29th of January at around five or six in the evening, the sound of an Imam’s* voice echoed through the streets of Sheraton Heliopolis (My neighborhood). The Imam called for all the men to go down into the streets and protect their homes. That’s when we found out about the prisons and the police stations, about the escaped convicts (Which were about 2,000 convict) and thugs that roamed the streets of Cairo, armed with guns and machine guns stolen from burnt police stations.

The Civilian Resistance is what you might call Neighborhood watch, we created road blocks, formed teams to guard and protect our families and homes. That day, something clicked in me, it wasn’t the thought of being killed, it was the fear of the unknown. We did not know what to be afraid of, we were sitting ducks armed with swords, knifes and Molotov cocktails waiting for gangs of thugs to drive by in stolen cars and kill us all. The howls of the men, the screams of the women in the balconies…I was scared, in fact, I’ve never been that terrified in my life. Even in the middle of all that horror, we still made jokes, we still laughed the sorrow away with the sounds of gunshots being fired echoing through the night.

I remember standing, engulfed by fear and desperate for sleep, holding my sword sometime in the early morning. As I scanned the parameter, I saw strangers that had become friends, I saw the man who talked a lot, I saw the kid sleeping on his father’s lap with a tiny stick in his hand, and I saw the old man who kept walking around with his head up high and a faint smile on his face. All of them gathered around several bonfires, offering each other tea and cake on that cold dark night. I couldn’t help but smile. The murmurs, the cries of fear and the speeches of hope are still echoing in my mind, because that’s who we are.

[*An Imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the Imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services.]

How did the events in the square affect everyday business in the rest of the city?
When the government ordered the curfew on the 28th, the whole country went off. The majority of the people on the streets were ether going to the Square or shopping for food. All the stores were closed after curfew hours, but there weren’t any food shortages, however, panic made things a bit harder. The hospital a few blocks away from home was working fine, day and night.

A new section of Ahmed's interview will post everyday this week. Tomorrow's question: What was it like for you when the “pro-Mubarak” supporters attacked the protesters?
Have a question for Ahmed Nader Al-Gretly? Please comment.
You can follow Ahmed on Twitter @ANaderGretly


Renee Miller said...

I've been reading each installment and I have to say, it's inspiring. Ahmed, I can clearly see the writer in you. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. You've made something easily ignored on the 'news' something that I will never easily forget. My daughters have been reading along as well. Thanks for giving me a way to let them step into someone else's shoes. My oldest said she feels very lucky to be where she is and to have the basic freedoms that she has. It's been eye opening for her.

So, thank you both.

anadergretly said...

You welcome Renee, I am glad that you've been following the events that happened on my part of the world. I'm also glad you've exposed your children to this story, I think it's very important for them to learn about these kind of things in order not to take life for granted.

Stay free,

Renee Miller said...

This is exactly what my oldest needed to see right now. She's in the lovely "My life sucks, it's so not fair." stage of preteen hormone insanity.

As she read each part so far, I could see the changes on her face. Then a light went off. She googled more information when she finished reading yesterday.

You've both given parents an opportunity here, no matter where they live, to teach something very valuable to our kids. Nothing should be taken for granted, especially not freedom.

It's a sobering reminder. You're alway in our thoughts. I hope brighter days are ahead and that they keep getting brighter. :)

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is so much different to hear the tale from the lips of someone who lives in Egypt and has a big stake in the outcome than hearing it from reporters, although I'm thankful for them, too. Good luck and God Bless You and your country