- Middle East/North Africa
Dear Mom and Dad,
I hear you're going to vote "yes" on the draft constitution. But because I know you well, and I know you only stand up for what is right, I would like to tell you a short story and make a small request.
The story took place on the eve of Hosni Mubarak's stepping down, when there were millions of us in Tahrir Square and the surrounding streets. I was going back into the square having briefly left with my friends to have dinner. It was difficult moving through the crowds. We were looking for somewhere to stand near the microphones to listen to Mubarak’s speech — the speech we were all waiting for, praying he would announce he was stepping down.
While I was moving through the crowds a woman grabbed my arm. She was wearing a black abeya and a veil. She looked worn out and sad. At first I thought she was leaning on me to avoid being pushed over by the crowd, or to take strength from me given the frailty of her body. But she looked at me deeply and said, "Do not forget the martyrs, my son … do not forget those who died," then she burst into tears. She continued repeating the same sentence, while I was trying to recover from the shock.
I felt this woman chose me from amongst the millions of Egyptians to tell me this. I felt she was holding me responsible for continuing the path that her son began. But alas, I felt I was not strong enough to hold my responsibility.
I will not pretend a heroism I do not possess. I will not claim I was a warrior in the battlefields. When the police threw teargas bombs at us, it was not me who would advance to the front to throw the canister back at them. I am not one of those heroes who stayed steadfast in Mohamed Mahmoud Street until the military announced a date for handing over power. I was always just a backline witness.
But I promise here to tell you the truth you will never watch on TV channels. I promise I will try as hard as I can to dispel the confusion the media creates by making a claim on one channel and its opposite on the other.
The truth I want you, Mom and Dad, to know and uphold is that my companions on the day the martyr’s mother held my hand were a mix of people from diverse intellectual leanings. Despite this, we never discussed our differences. We shared food and fear. And we swore before God that our revolution had one, and only one, aim: "Bread, freedom, and social justice."
On that day, we promised the martyr’s mother we would never forget her son or any other martyr.
The regrettable truth is that the Tahrir-mates are no longer the companions they used to be. Some betrayed us. Power lust led them astray. They deceived us and chanted, "Bread, freedom, social justice." But we discovered that their revolution was for power and not for ideals.
If they try to rewrite history by claiming they led the revolution — as they are doing now — say "no" to them.
Your son was an eyewitness to this revolution. So please remind those who turned their backs on us that they failed to join the 25 January protests. Remind them that they left the youth, whose image they are now trying to tarnish, to be beaten up and arrested in the streets on 26 and 27 January.
The simple truth is that the revolution was imposed on these people. They were forced to join in on 28 January.
If they try to lie in the preamble to their constitution claiming that someone other than the youth protected the revolution; say "no" to them.
Tell them that the people protected the revolution, and that it was the people alone who stood up to the military during the July 2011 Tahrir Square sit-in until they put Mubarak in prison.
It was the people alone who stood against the military’s bullets during the Mohamed Mahmoud battles, until the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was forced to announce a date for the handover of power.
It was them alone who resisted army injustice when it killed Sheikh Emad Effat and crushed Mina Daniel underneath their Armed Personnel Carriers.
Say "no" to them, because they are religion brokers.
Just as on the first anniversary of the revolution they used the Quran in order to drown out the people’s chants against the military, today they are using religion in order to divide us, claiming that the opposition hates religion and knows no moral values.
Tell them that we know religion better than them, and that is why we are exposing their lies and deception in its name.
Say "no" to them because their constitution divides us, and will not realize the demands that genuine revolutionaries rose up for — bread, freedom and social justice.
Their constitution is nothing more than a deal. It suits the needs of those who betrayed the revolution and longed for power. It fulfills the demands of those who claim they protected the revolution while they were trying to steal it from its true creators.
Say "no" because they deceived us before, when they said that "yes" will ensure stability. You said “yes” and there was no stability.
They said the Parliament will bring about stability. So, despite their betrayal of the blood of the Mohamed Mahmoud martyrs, we elected them. Yet there was still no stability.
Then we called on them to take full power from the military on the first anniversary of the revolution. But they refused and clashed with us — and there was still no stability.
Then it was time for the presidential election runoffs. We supported their candidate against the Mubarak regime’s candidate. We stood behind them and made them victorious. In return, they promised us participation and not domination; they promised renaissance and stability. But here we are today: All of the promises have been broken and still — there is no stability.
Say "no" because they promised us they would change the composition of the Constituent Assembly, and broke the promise.
Say "no" because we are still following the military’s transition roadmap. They resist changing it because they know their number of seats in the Assembly will be reduced. Genuine representation for all of Egyptians frightens their fascist organization, which claims it is more religious, principled and patriotic than us.
Say "no" because we never saw the crowds that gathered outside Cairo University in the Islamists’ "legitimacy and Sharia" rally rise up for the fall of Mubarak, or for the application of Sharia under Mubarak’s rule.
Say "no" because the figures that appeared on their podiums declared the revolutionaries are not Muslims, because they stood against the ruler. Some of them even called on us to give Mubarak a chance. And today they say what Mubarak used to say: That our tents are a house for alcohol, drugs and sexual relations.
Say "no" because you taught me to stand up for what is right, even when what is wrong is stronger.
If the referendum result is “yes,” I will not regret my choice to vote “no.”
Our revolution continues, whatever the result will be, until we realize our demands for bread, freedom and social justice.
I swear to you that these young people, the real revolutionaries, seek neither power nor personal glory. Do not believe we are controlled by an elite or by the glory hunters on satellite TVs. It is us who control this feeble elite, which is pursuing its own interests.
Say "no" because it is the youth who forced this elite — which was leaning toward a boycott — to engage in the battle, and rely on you to make us victorious. We are betting on you at a time when those who want a “yes” are betting on division, sectarianism and false religious slogans.
We have no one else but you, our families, after God. The military betrayed us, and the religion brokers disappointed us and declared us traitors.
You are the judge between us. They claim that heaven is reserved for those who say “yes.” We do not possess a heaven to promise you. We can only promise that our revolution will continue for your sake.
Say "no" because their constitution is illegitimate, or doubtful, and "he who chooses to follow a doubtful road chooses what is haram."
Say "no" because we are convinced that what is right will prevail.
Say "no" because we will win.
Translated by Sarah Carr.
This piece was published in collaboration with Jadaliyya.