Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diplomatic Missions

I learned two things about two diplomatic missions today that upset me.

1. Diplomatic staff are not allowed to visit the occupied Palestinian territories as they wish.

I sort of knew this already, or I knew that there are special rules and that UN staff from abroad, for instance, are always based in Jerusalem and are restricted when it comes to traveling in the Palestinian territories.

I also knew that up until recently Canada's diplomatic staff, who are also always based in Jerusalem even though their office is in Ramallah, weren't allowed to drive in the occupied territories at all.

Today I learned that even though they are allowed to drive here now, they can't drive to other places than Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho.

How I found out? I suggested to a nice Canadian lady from the Canadian Representative Office that she go and watch Alice in Wonderland at the Freedom Theater in the refugee camp in Jenin. Really professional production, great actors.

And she went, "But I'm not allowed to go to Jenin if I don't go in an armored vehicle."

Did I miss something? Are we at war?

A little innocently I replied, "But you can go on a day off, no?"

"No, we're not allowed to."

But it's your DAY OFF. Why aren't you allowed to do whatever you want? Is what I wanted to say, but I didn't.

Oh, and for the record, it's obviously not the Palestinian Authority that forbids diplomats from traveling freely here; it's the diplomatic missions themselves who set up all these completely-disconnected-from-reality type of rules for their staff. Or rather, it's their governments who do.

As if Jenin is somehow more dangerous than Ramallah. And as if Ramallah is dangerous to begin with.

Anyway, then I learned something else from a colleague who recently had a meeting with USAID staff in Jerusalem:

2. Only foreign aid recipients from the West Bank and Gaza are required by the USAID to sign anti-terrorist provisions.

Never heard of the anti-terrorist provisions before?

It's a contract that all NGOs (well, Palestinian NGOs) have to sign every time they enter into a contract with the USAID. 
"The Recipient, to the best of its current knowledge, did not provide, within the previous ten years, and will take all reasonable steps to ensure that it does not and will not knowingly provide, material support or resources to any individual or entity that commits, attempts to commit, advocates, facilitates, or participates in terrorist acts, or has committed, attempted to commit, facilitated, or participated in terrorist acts."*
And a terrorist act is
"an act of premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents"*
"any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act."*
Which would mean that we aren't allowed to work with basically any Israeli, since they have all served in the Israeli army that frequently does just that. Performs acts that are intended to cause death to civilians not taking active part in hostilities, in order to intimidate a population, I mean.

But of course, we are allowed to work with Israelis if we want to.

We have signed the anti-terrorist provisions twice, and then, according to our contract, made all of the people we buy products or services from sign it too. Such as the printing company that does our roll-ups and banners, the store we once bought a camera from, our taxi drivers (but we actually don't make our taxi drivers sign a contract before we get into the car, because that would be ridiculous, and we told our donors just that), and the grocery stores we buy cookies and tea from (yes, there is a huge risk that the revenue they get from cookies goes directly to evil terrorist camp owners).

All the while, I naively thought everybody who receives foreign aid from the USAID had to sign these contracts.

But apparently, it's only Palestinians. Not Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, or anybody else who normally get labeled "terrorists" in the international media. Only Palestinians.

Does that make me feel good about the world?

Not really.

Does it surprise me?

Sadly enough, not really.

*These quotes are from an application to receive funding from the USAID, which is readily available to the public in Palestine in case anybody thought I'm disclosing top secret information here or something. The application form includes the special provisions that NGOs must be prepared to sign in order to get the funding.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011


On Sunday, the rain was pouring down on Palestine. It gushed forth from the clouds as if great buckets were being emptied onto us as a part of an early spring cleaning from the sky.

It took us a little by surprise, the icy bucket loads of water pouring down on us, as we got out of the car to show two Italian girls the old city of Al-Khalil (Hebron). We hadn't expected it, although we always welcome all the rain we can get in the winter so that the olive trees can produce enough olives for us in the fall to make our golden green olive oil that we eat with everything.

Yes. I learned here in Palestine to eat olive oil with everything. Drench my bread in it, drizzle it over hummus, vegetables, cheese. I never knew it tasted so good.

The rain poured down on us, but to my surprise at least 15 shop owners had ventured to fling open their doors open and line up their olives, pickles, raisins, sweets and spices beside beduin carpets, traditional embroidery, scarves and touristy trinkets. In spite of the rain, the Jewish settlers and the Israeli soldiers.

 One of those stores in Al-Khalil I never saw open before

Beautiful hand-embroidered Palestinian clothes for sale in Al-Khalil

I had never seen so many shops open at once in Al-Khalil. Tarek told me and the Italian girls that the Khalilis are making a concerted effort to stand up against the settler violence and harassment and sort of protest by carrying on their lives as if everything were as it should in Al-Khalil.

But it isn't.

The Ibrahimi Mosque is still separated from the predominantly Palestinian part of the old city by a two-turnstile, two-metal-detector checkpoint, manned by armed Israeli soldiers that control and intimidate.

Palestinians passing the Israeli military checkpoint that divides their city

The Mosque is still partitioned into two parts by the Israelis; one side for Muslims, and one side for Jews.

Rooftops are still guarded by green clad soldiers; settlers still drive their cars at top speed through the neighborhoods, splashing freezing cold water on Palestinian children.

We walked down Shuhada Street, where Palestinians aren't allowed to walk except on a narrow stretch on one side of the street, cordoned off by a cement barrier, watched over by Israeli soldiers. Palestinians are only allowed to walk on this narrow stretch of their old street so that they can pass from one side of the city to the other. The rest of the street, and everything that's in front of you and behind you if you should stand in the middle, the settlers have taken over completely.

Shuhada Street is the same street where doors and windows of houses have been welded shut by the Israeli military so that the Palestinian inhabitants have to climb up on the roof, over to their neighbors' houses, and down on a parallel street to be able to go out at all. So that the Jews don't have mix with the locals.

The rain poured down, and collected itself in streams on the ground that washed sand and gravel onto the streets.

A group of Israeli soldiers came walking down from where the Jews-only part of the Ibrahimi Mosque is, over to two armored vehicles that they had parked in an area where Palestinians are still allowed to walk.

Israeli soldiers on their way to their armored cars in Al-Khalil

A young Palestinian girl with dark brown curly hair tied in a little bun struggled with a baby stroller loaded with white sacks, stuck in the gravel and the puddles.

She had been to collect sacks of grains, perhaps rice, and probably flour from ICRC. Around 7 000 Palestinians in the old city of Al-Khalil depend on humanitarian aid in the form of food from ICRC every month. But because Palestinians aren't allowed to drive in the old city, they have to lug the sacks over long distances, down the streets they are still allowed to walk on, past checkpoints.

On Sunday, it was little Shaimaa's turn to get the ICRC sacks. Perhaps her parents were sick. I don't know.

Her younger brother Shadi helped her push the stroller through the gravel, but neither one of them was strong enough to keep it rolling straight. It kept turning the wrong way, getting stuck and refusing to move. Their hair was wet and their fingers purple from the cold.

Tarek walked up to them, took over the steering for a moment to prevent the stroller from getting stuck in a particularly huge puddle.

Then he came over to us again, only to say,

"Honey, do you have my mittens with you?"

"Yes," I said, immediately understanding what he was thinking. Glad that he thinks this way.

I produced his brand new mittens we had bought in Cairo from my purse, and handed them to him.

"Thanks," he said and walked back to Shaimaa and Shadi.

He took the cold little hands of the girl in his and pulled the mittens on, finger by finger.

I wanted to take a picture, but felt it would somehow not be right. Instead I asked the girl what her name was.

"Shaimaa," she said so timidly I almost couldn't hear her.

"And you?" I asked the boy.


"Where do you live?" Tarek wanted to know.

"Just around the corner," Shaimaa answered.

"Okay." Tarek put her hands on the handle and told Shadi to stick his hands in his pockets. "Yalla."

Shaimaa and Shadi pushed the stroller around the corner, and we tried to walk back towards the car. But apparently we took a wrong turn somewhere because we were stopped by soldiers who wouldn't let us take a short cut in spite of the heavy rain. Tarek is a Palestinian, after all. And these are Jews-only streets.

A blocked street in Al-Khalil, with graffiti that reads Forgiveness

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People Who Just Do Their Job

I cannot for the world understand that there is anybody in this world still willing to work for Muammar Qaddafi.

If the massacre in Libya of the past few days didn't convince them that working for him is indefensible, then his speech today surely must have.


Who is he?

An arrogant, vain, tragic theater man who can't accept that he's not the center of the world anymore, as he once imagined himself to be.

How can there still be soldiers, civil servants, anybody loyal to him?

How can the man who brought out the mug to him during his speech still work for him?

There comes a time when "just doing your job" is no longer an acceptable justification.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Alf Mabrook, ya Masr!

That is to say: Congratulations to a job well done, Egypt!

The Middle East is changing. And therefore, the world.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wael Ghonim speaks on CNN

My blog recently turned into a Egypt Revolution page, and in keeping with the new tradition I'd like to share an interview with Wael Ghonim on CNN:

That's it.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Khaled Said's Mom

I usually don't put other people's pictures on my blog, but tonight I will make an exception because this picture brought tears to my eyes:

It's Wael Ghonim and Khaled Said's mom Laila in Al-Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier today. It's the first time they ever meet.


(Not sure what I'm talking about? Read this blog post, and watch this video clip).

Thanks Egyptian blogger Zeinobia for sharing this picture; I hope you don't mind that I borrowed it.

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A Reluctant Hero - Wael Ghonim

This is an interview everybody who has followed the recent events in Egypt must watch:

I won't say anything else, except that I won't take back calling Wael Ghonim a hero, regardless of what he says. He is a hero. Just like every single Egyptian who has gone out of their houses to reclaim their rights, their freedom and their country is a hero.

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The Birth of a Hero - Wael Ghonim

It's nowhere yet, because I think all those journalists who keep updating the live feeds on the Egyptian Revolution went home to sleep, but tomorrow there will be one name on everybody's lips:

Wael Ghonim.

Wael Ghonim was captured--kidnapped, actually--at the very start of the Egyptian Revolution, and has been detained for the past 12 days. Blindfolded. Interrogated. (But not tortured, he says).

Why? Why him? Why 12 days?

Because he tweeted and facebooked about political change in Egypt? Because he made Mohamed ElBaradei's website?

There are thousands of young Egyptians who are the same, and the ones we heard were detained, were detained for a day or two, and then released. The journalists too--a few hours, a day, then they could go, it seemed.

So why Wael Ghonim?

A few minutes ago, Egypt found out.

Wael was released in the afternoon today, Monday the 7th of February. There were some false reports at first, but finally he was released, and the whole Twitter community welcomed him back as if he were everybody's brother. It was mentioned, too, on these live news feeds of the major news agencies I was talking about (I monitor Al-Jazeera's, The Guardian's, and BBC's).

Then, everybody forgot about him a little and concentrated on getting all the other activists released, cracking Mubarak jokes, and talking about the next step for the Revolution not to lose momentum.

That was until Dream TV broadcasted a live interview with Wael Ghonim and the whole Revolution shifted and Egypt finally got a hero (who is alive, unlike the around 300 who lost their lives fighting for the freedom of their people).

Wael Ghonim is the young man behind the Facebook page that essentially started this whole Revolution.

Kolena Khaled Said. We Are All Khaled Said.

Did I tell you about Khaled? He's the young Egyptian blogger who was brutally beaten to death because he posted pictures of corrupt Egyptian police officers on his blog last June. For all of you who think you can handle it (but please be warned), you can see how he used to look, and the way he looked after his killers were done with him here.

Kolena Khaled Said has 501 925 members as I'm writing this. That's half a million. And it is widely accepted that it is this Facebook group that essentially started the 25 January movement in Egypt. The 25 January movement that lead to this full-out revolution we've seen unfold over the past two weeks.

And until an hour ago, nobody knew who was behind it; who had started the group. Everybody was out on the streets because they were inspired by the message the group was spreading, either directly or indirectly, but nobody knew who was behind it.

But then Wael Ghonim comes on live TV and cries. Saying that he was the admin of the Facebook group. And that he only found out yesterday what had happened in his country over the past two weeks. The millions out on the streets. The hundreds killed. The thousands injured. The concessions made by the government, the young Egyptians who won't give up and who won't go home until Mubarak steps down and Egypt is free and democratic.

He cried. And he said he is not a traitor. There are no traitors; all those behind the Facebook groups that call for demonstrations are Egyptians.

And he said he is sorry for those who lost their children, but it is not their fault, it is the fault of the regime.

Then he broke down. As the music was playing and pictures of those who have given their lives in the Revolution were showing, he broke down and walked out of the studio, weeping.

I only saw the last few minutes of the interview, but it was enough to understand that the Egyptian Revolution just got its hero.

Watch for the youtube clip tomorrow morning.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Jessy's World

I know you've all been asking yourselves where the updates on Jessy the Mad Dog are.

What's going on in the world of Jessy?

Here's what:

Jessy the Revolutionary Dog

Besides getting caught up in the Egyptian (and the overall Arab) Revolution, she's keeping herself busy sniffing and licking, barking randomly at passers-by, and giving us the puppy-eye look when we eat, guilt-tripping us into sharing with her.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Not Over

I listened to people yesterday who seemed to have accepted Hosni Mubarak's speech on Tuesday night, and wanted the fight for freedom to end.

Mubarak is old. And he's a war hero. And he's Mubarak. We can't humiliate him any longer. And besides, he said he won't run again in September. And that there will be constitutional changes.

Come on. Enough is enough. We want our lives back.

And then I listened to all those who were still in Al-Tahrir Square, saying that after the immense crackdown on Wednesday on the peaceful protests (that was clearly at least in part performed by Mubarak's state security people), how can they trust him? After 30 years of despotic rule, how can they trust him? After the hundreds that gave their lives for the struggle for a free Egypt in the past week, how can they give up?

And how in the world can we trust a regime who's broadcasting propaganda on state TV so far from the truth that even the journalists presenting it quit because they can't bare to lie anymore?

Then I got a message from somebody asking me to stop writing what I'm writing because Egypt doesn't need this. Egypt needs stability now.

I wavered a little. Was the revolution over? Was I supporting something even Egyptians had given up?

Who could I ask?

My very dear friend Hani in Cairo. He would tell me like it is, regardless of his personal viewpoint.

This is what he said:
"Ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome? (you must have, you're from Sweden!) 
I've seen many do the same today and over the past few days (give up on the revolution and back Mubarak). People are scared and confused. But I have also seen many more with unwavering resolve. This is a defining time for Egypt, and -even more important for the answer to "what's next?" - for my generation in Egypt. When I see some not being able to cope with the overwhelming stress, my mind is tempted to scream "Betrayal!", but I know that people's coping capacities are different.  
Let me speak for my own demographic and age group (late twenties, educated): I have never seen young Egyptians so determined on anything like this before. Whatever happens tomorrow or next week doesn't matter. Mubarak's dirty regime is done. They dug their own grave. 
It is a very difficult time, but we are emerging from this with a revived sense of *ownership* of Egypt. Is this what all "revolutionaries" before us felt before? I don't know, but I know it feels good."
I asked him about his take on the likeliness of the Muslim Brotherhood hijacking the revolution.
"The Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) are a potential threat and should be taken seriously, but an amended constitution can hedge against that to a pretty good extent. Also, it is erroneous to draw parallels between Egypt and Iran because we're very different religiously. Furthermore, the revolution will ideally set some ground rules and "lessons learned" that will uproot tendencies towards a blind regress into a theocracy. I also think that Egyptian secular intellectuals will have a much bigger influence now, and they are many. 
There were Ikhwan dudes hugging Christians in Tahrir today. There were Christians forming a human cordon around praying Muslims in Tahrir yesterday. It might just be the "heat of the moment", but it says something about the social fabric of Egypt."

I am reassured. By Hani's words, and by the amazing live pictures from Egypt today, when once again hundreds of thousands are flooding the streets. Al-Tahrir Square is absolutely packed with people who have no desire for violence. All they want is a free Egypt.

In the words of @hmikail on Twitter a moment ago:
"Tahrir Square is hosting the biggest freedom festival this planet has ever seen!"
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Egyptian People

I just had a minor nervous breakdown over following the news a little too closely over the past week. Too many terrible youtube clips of people being killed; too many reports of missing persons.

So just to remind everybody for a moment of who the Egyptians really are, I borrowed this picture taken yesterday by Twitter user @NevineZaki in Cairo:

These are Christian Egyptians, forming a protective circle around their Muslim brothers and sisters during their prayer. It's at Al-Tahrir Square yesterday, during the protests.

Beautiful, isn't it?

That's Egypt.

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"Rantings of a Sandmonkey: Egypt Right Now!"

Since Sandmonkey was arrested and his blog account suspended, I managed to get his last blog post and will paste it here:

Egypt Right Now!
I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.
It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.
That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.
Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.
Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.
To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.
Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.
You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" - thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.
In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.
Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.
The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

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Sandmonkey Arrested

The Egyptian I quoted earlier today, who calls himself Sandmonkey, has been arrested according to another Egyptian Twitter user.

 Zeinobia Famous Egyptian blogger Mahmoud aka @ has been arrested    spread the news

I don't know him, but I've followed him on Twitter for a week now... and anyway, right now, all Egyptians fighting for freedom are my brothers and sisters.


It has been confirmed. Sandmonkey is arrested. 

RamyYaacoub Breaking news: @Sandmonkey was arrested by state security. They called his father and claimed he has revolution leaflets #Egypt #Jan25
 Breaking news - Confirmed: @ got arrested! 
I'm sure the fact that the Guardian, BBC and countless others quote his eyewitness reports from the Egyptian Revolution has nothing to do with it.

Update #2:

Sandmonkey's blog is taken off the internet. I wish I had copy-pasted his entire blog post before.

Update #3:

Sandmonkey has been released.

Update #4:

Read his account of what happened here.

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Don't Lose Hope

Another copy-paste blog post while I'm supposed to be working:

If you thought that Mubarak's security people and rented supporters could break the spirit of the Egyptian people, think again.

After the battles yesterday that killed at least three, but probably more like 8, and injured hundreds and hundreds, the pro-democracy protesters have regained control of Al-Tahrir Square.

And the spirit of cooperation cannot be broken:

 (on Twitter)
Incredible scenes of heroism and defiance in  makeshift clinics, frontline reinforcements arriving, this is the battle for 

Peter Beaumont and Jack Shenker reports for the Guardian:
"Some sections of the roadway are so littered with debris and torn apart by those seeking rocks to throw that they are now impassable. But social organisation amongst the pro-change forces remains strong, with groups cooking breakfast over fires and handing out food amongst the crowds."

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Directly from Cairo

Until I have more time to write, I will paste this quote by an Egyptian who calls himself Sandmonkey:
I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn’t caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren’t the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren’t the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn’t enough for you.
To read the full blog post, just click on the quote. It's well worth reading. Gives a recap over the last 10 days from somebody who experienced it firsthand. (The only thing is that the three million he said demonstrated on Tuesday, was actually eight million according to many news sources).

OK. I promise to come with more updates later today. I'm literally watching the developments in Egypt minute-by-minute (which makes it difficult for me to sleep and do my work properly... oops... but it's not every day a whole nation rises up in a revolution that will change the country, the region and, frankly, the whole world forever).

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