These days last year, we were running from city to city protesting sectarian strife post the deadly bombing of Alexandria church 20 minutes into the new year. We chanted death to Habib El Adly, we demanded justice and to hold those in power accountable for not protecting churches, and repressing us for asking for our dignity and equality. While crackdowns on Tunisian revolutionaries were taking place, activists in Egypt were watching closely hoping for victory for what was known then as the #Sidibouzid up-rise. As fellow Arabs calling for freedom, we stood in solidarity with Tunisians in their fight hoping the domino effect would hit us soon and save us from our dictatorship misery. On January 2nd, we called for a stand with candles in Talaat Harb sq in solidarity with Tunisians that soon enough turned into a protest against police and sectarianism. The stand was held by only tens of supporters and was shortly raided by state police, telling us no one can stand here, four of my friends got arrested while Ramy Raoof and I ran down on Talaat Harb st escaping police after my phone was almost broken by a police officer when I was trying to take a video.
We regrouped with more supporters on the way, and we marched down the streets of Talaat Harb chanting “To Mohamed tell Bolus, tomorrow Egypt will be Tunisia,” a chant that combined Muslim and Christian unity in the face of sectarianism for a better free Egypt in support of the Tunisian revolution. We marched down Ramsis st and immediately we were met by hundreds of riot police, and finally cordoned for nearly 8 hours without anyone allowed in or out of the cordon for any reason.
Along with Mona Seif, Ramy Raoof, Haitham Mohamedain, Aida Seif, and many other brave souls, we stood there chanting, tweeting, never giving up, and telling those officers, “Tomorrow when the revolution comes, it will put you in prison.” The night ended, we went home, and protested again in Shubra in solidarity with our Christian brothers & sisters at El Massara church sit-in, where I also was cordoned for nearly 10 hours by riot police while thousands clashed with police on Shubra st.
January 7th, the Coptic Christian holiday, was spent differently. Muslims and non-Muslims went to form human chains around churches on midnight for Christians to have a safe mass. Later that day, we stood in black with candles on Kasr El Nile bridge mourning the loss of our Christian brothers and sisters from the Alexandria church bombing.
A year later to think that we had multiple churches attacks, whether in Imbaba in April or Aswan in October, post a revolution that happened only weeks after the kind of solidarity & unity shown post Alexandria church bombing is incomprehensible, but explainable. It is explainable by one reason and one reason only because the regime is still alive and kicking. The people STILL demand the removal of regime. Sectarian strife has been one of the many tools used by the regime to divide and rule people, so it is not a surprise that attacks against minorities do still happen, but unfortunately, they happen at a greater loss and more viciously.
Who can ever forget that the same army who is supposed to protect its civilians could run-over Christians with military tanks? The loss of Mina Daniel and others makes you wonder at what cost will we win this revolution? The answer is clear and seen everyday and in every revolutionary’s eyes in Tahrir willing to die for Egypt to live.
I have no doubt that with this kind of support, courage, and bravery, we will free Egypt from SCAF, which is the same regime that killed and repressed us since 1952. This year, the year of freedom, as I am calling it, will be different and it already has since we started the year celebrating in Tahrir, Muslims & Christians, hand in hand against SCAF. Welcome 2012…