- Middle East/North Africa
Mr. President, I write you these words..
I do not know for sure whether or not my message will reach you. I do wish that you will receive it by any means, whether through your office manager or a presidential staff officer, or any other person who is allowed to meet you personally and whose words you trust.
Perhaps one of those will read my words, and perhaps my words, unheeded, will go down the drain. I have written many words, feeling like I was talking to myself in the barren desert, with no answer but the echo of my voice.
I admit that my words sometimes turn into screams, because of frustration, despair, oppression and more recently.. fear. Yes, fear. I am afraid of your security agencies, Mr. President.
I thank God every day that my family and I are fine so far. I have my concerns, whenever I criticize your policies, that I may meet dire consequences, or worse, what I can not imagine in my worst nightmares.
Someone sent me an email advising me to stop criticizing the regime, because 'they will not turn a blind eye to me for long', and he justifies this by the increase in my readers!!
To have readers is something that pleases any writer but, in these circumstances, it is an accusation. There is always a question behind closed doors: "And then what?" Should he leave let the writer continue along his path or is time to put stumbling blocks in his way and search for a way to catch him?
Tapping people's phones is one common way now. It has become a nightmare experienced by Egypt every day. No one is secure from the eyes and ears of Big Brother. And no one knows when he'll see a leak of any kind. Whoever you are, you must have told someone some word, some day; and this can be used against you.
In this regard, we can not forget the famous tapping of the president's statement about the Gulf countries, when he said: "They have money like rice." We all, from the President to even the smallest employee in the smallest directorate in the smallest village in Egypt, have what we do not want people to know. All of us have secrets, no one is excluded from this rule, from the top to the bottom.
The President has guards, institutions and agencies that push away any harm, but I have just words I write and readers, and those have become a source of danger, not protection. Can you imagine how this could be?.. How things have evolved?!
From the moment I first chose to write what I believe in and relieve my conscience, whether it satisfies the reader or displeases him, I have shown simply who and what I am; and anyone who has ever dealt with me personally knows that.
I have been writing articles now for many years, from the last few years under Mubarak, up until now. The editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm never objected to any articles I have written, except for one article about Amr Moussa. The former editor-in-chief Mohamed Salmawy had asked me to modify some of it, but I preferred not to publish it at all instead, as I was not prepared to change what I had writen in it.
I have never felt fear of the reaction of the regime toward what I write. I know, of course, these is a price we pay subconsciously, but this never worried me, as I have always felt that we are a big country, with well-established tradition, even with opponents of the regime. We are not the Republic of Pinochet, and our leaders are not Idi Amin. There was always the perception that the era of the centralized power of the security apparatus -- and what we saw of this period enacted in the films of the Sadat era -- can never come back one day. Then why is it that I feel like we are restoring this frightening and dark atmosphere?
What are we required to do? Be afraid? I admit I am afraid. Is this the message sent by the regime from time to time to his opponents? "Fear!! Be safe!" We have to follow carefully what happens to dissidents who disappear from the scene one after another; the last one being Ibrahim Eissa, who was the spoiled son of the July 3, 2013, overthrow of Morsi, and the advice for all is: "In those you have an example, oh, men of understanding!"
The problem, Mr. President, is that I do not have my own newspaper to express what I want, and I have no talent for writing novels the might be translated overseas and receive valuable prizes; nor do I write scenarios for the cinema that may find their way to the screens.. I only have words to write honestly for a reader who may appreciate them; not seeking any position, nor authority.
Mr. President, as that is your duty to provide a decent and fair life for the people who entrusted you, and to protect the country from terrorism and from everything that threatens the security of Egypt at home and abroad, it's the duty of writers, including myself, to watch you, and state institutions, with honesty and integrity, and write about what we see of mistakes that need to be corrected.
We try to engage readers in what we have come up with from ideas and information on what is going on around us in the world and affects us directly and indirectly. It is not our role to find solutions, but we provide the questions that help to find solutions if there is good will.
Some accuse us of only seeing the empty half of a glass; and this is true. It is not a defect in us only, but because there are double the number of people who see only the full half of the glass. It’s our destiny to talk about the defects as the majority talk about the achievements and miracles.
Why do I write this message now?
To get liberated.. liberated from my fears, and fear is a normal human sense, but after the fear you have to choose whether to live it or be liberated from it, and I choose to be liberated from it and from the feeling of uncertainty which has been haunting me for long days.
I almost could imagine that it will not end as I have lived, in dispersion and confusion.. and whether this message reaches you Mr President or not, I am happy about it, because it eased the heavy burden from my shoulders.. May God prove us in the right and secure us from fear.
"Say, 'O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent'."
Surat Ali 'Imran [verse 26]