Bread, Liberty and Human Dignity, in Cairo -January 2011

I write you these lines while we, the Egyptian people, are going through difficult times. I write to you, with my heart bleeding for this beautiful country: these things needed to happen to waken the country from its slumber.

The revolution of January 25th was not born from an idea or by chance; it was the result of a wound which tore the people apart and affected them more deeply every day.
The idea began with a group of young people calling themselves "We are all Khaled Said ". Khaled Said was a young man who died as a result of being tortured by the police, which led a group of young people to form a movement on the internet (Facebook) bearing this name to signify that each one of them considered themselves exposed to the same malpractices.

Another movement called the "Young People of the April 6th" also took part in organising the January 25th events. On the April 6th 2008, the workmen from the spinning mills of Mahalla al-Kobra went on strike to demand an increase in salary; there were about 20,000 of them and they were harshly suppressed by the police. They were the origins of the movement.
On January 25th, like many other young Egyptians, I decided to go and take part in the demonstration. I went with my friend Martin to Tahrir Square where we only found the security police. So we went to Choubra Street, where we found the beginning of the demonstration: about sixty young men and women. we went to Tahrir Squarewe went to Tahrir Square
We began to shout for Mubarak and his regime to step down; we repeated "Bread, liberty, human dignity" and "The people wants the regime to fall". The police officers tried to stop us but we were determined to continue, motivated by all that we had suffered. The police tried to assert themselves by force and to contain our movements; in fact, seeing our determination, people began to join us in huge numbers. The police tried in vain to divide us. We had reached about 2,000 demonstrators. Extra police arrived.
So we set off in the direction of Rameses Square, then the seat of the Supreme Court, in spite of police opposition. In fact the population responded to the demonstration and when we arrived at Rameses Square, there were nearly 10,000 of us.

Then we reached Tahrir Square where we found other demonstrators whom we joined.
Truly it is a grace that I have lived. For the first time I tasted the flavour of my country's national anthem, this anthem, which all through my nine years of basic education, I had repeated every day without feeling anything.
When I repeated it with love for my country as a citizen, with the people marching towards reform, I was unable to hold back the tears; I repeated it, we repeated it together with enthusiasm and strength. We were all young, without allegiance to any party.
The only thing motivating us was our love for our country.
There was neither woman nor man, neither girl nor boy, we were all brothers.
The one who had food with him shared it with him who had none; the same with the one who had brought water. We stayed there singing popular patriotic songs with enthusiasm and joy, as if Egypt was being born again. And all that while we were surrounded by barriers of police who tried to decimate us, thinking that we were breaking the law, sowing disorder and anarchy.

We faced up to the police, holding each other's hands, boys and girls, and when we were stoned, we held on to each other's hands to protect each other and that increased our determination against the dictatorship.
We stayed there like that until 2.30 the next morning, until the moment when they showered us with tear gas bombs. We were severely tested especially the older people who had joined us as well as some of the young people. There were about 40,000 of us on Tahrir Square before we dispersed. So we returned to Choubra and there we were chased by the police who began to make arrests. They got hold of my friend Martin while I managed to escape.

On Sunday 30th, I went back to Tahrir Square and I stayed there for three days in a row. With a group we cleaned the streets, we got supplies of water and we shared out food among the demonstrators. A certain number of cultured people joined us, writers and famous artists; they encouraged us.

At first, after President Hosni Mubarak announced his decision to step down, I did not believe my ears; I could not imagine a day when we, the good Egyptian people who in our simplicity respect our leaders even if they strip us of our rights, had had the last word, we had dared to change the system of power. The joy around Tahrir Square was extraordinary.
Everybody came out into the streets full of joy, rushing towards the world of freedom. We were together, singing, dancing, and shouting. There were extraordinary scenes of celebration with heartfelt zeal. We looked at each other with pride as if we had found our voices after being silent for 49 years since the founding of the republic in Egypt, amazed at holding the word by which we were able to lead our country on the path towards freedom and development.

February 11th 2011 is the date of the birth of a new generation and of a new era for Egypt. This revolution has proved that violence is not the way to have access to justice, peace and freedom; the damage caused was minimal in all areas whether it be material damage or human life.
The regime has been changed thanks to peace and non-violence: it is a whole new culture for our Arab peoples; it represents for us Egyptians a shift in our way of thinking, a shift which will have considerable consequences for the future.

Dear brothers, I apologise for having been so longwinded, but what I wanted to say is that I have lived through a particular grace with my people and with regard to my homeland. I shared their suffering which was also mine. I put my finger on the wounds of hunger, poverty, degradation, repression, of the fact that everything was imposed on us. I heard the cry of my people and I cried out with them. I perceived the authenticity of my people, their love for me as a Christian and my love for them as Muslims.
I found myself as a man on the battlefield of justice and conscience. I found myself as man and woman, girl and boy, young and old, all resolute against the forces of evil and injustice. I found myself as a child crying over my homeland which was collapsing; I found myself as a young man solidly encamped to lift up this beloved homeland and to give it back the rank to which it is entitled due to its cultural heritage and its secular civilisation. I found myself as a Little Brother bearing all that, with my hand not daring to take up a stone to hit someone else with and eliminate them with. The final word was not of sadness but of joy. I found me singing and dancing with my people. Yes, these are the graces that God has given me to live and the Fraternity has helped me a lot to enter into such an experience with all that I have in my heart for my homeland and my people, this people has also helped me to express my disgust in the face of everything which goes against the development of this beautiful, good country, and to express as well my joy and happiness for this country which is moving towards a horizon of freedom and dignity for every person who lives there.