[Egypt] "We're the freedom people."


Ahmed Said on 8.12.2015, imprisoned at Abdeen Police Station, Cairo. - All the consoling messages that reach me from the outside end with: "Don't worry, you'll get out soon, this just a slap on the hand, they want to intimidate you a bit and then you'll be released." These messages reach me in a place where I'm surrounded by the kinds of people who embody the madness of this system, the stupidity of its individual members and the corruption of its institutions.

I understand perfectly well that the only thing my friends and family care about is that I get out of here and that I should deny every connection to the [25] January Revolution and its supporters. They also demand of my friends that they not speak about it and that they not mention it in the presentation of my defense. This is because they believe this to be the only way I can be found innocent of the charge – of which I am most proud – and the only way I can be protected inside from the violence of the Ministry of the Interior and its mad "dogs."
But so long as I am surrounded by such people, I cannot think that way. I cannot change my way of thinking one bit in this place. On the contrary, and as has been the case before: the walls and the air of your cell, the prisoners and their conversations give you all the proof you need that you have not taken the wrong path, and your certainty only grows in time.
"Take care of yourself and look to your future."
A lawyer, entrepreneur and owner of a tourism company, who looked after his own affairs and focused exclusively on his work told me: "They brought down Mubarak, I drove out in the car with the kids and honked the horn, then Mursi came and I went out and celebrated, they brought down Mursi and I went out and celebrated, then Sisi came to power and I went out and celebrated." A difference of opinion between himself and one of the people who, as he says, protects his interests, was all it took to land him in jail, for the latter was a high-ranking security officer.
They kept him imprisoned for 22 months without pressing a charge and now he is facing seven different charges about which he knows nothing at all.
I only mention this example to show that you are ignoring what we are experiencing under this despotic fascist regime. You will not be able to avoid becoming a victim of its madness. Your silence and your self-obsession amount to an impossible strategy of sticking your head in the sand in the belief that you can escape from the danger that we are surrounded by on every side.
There are many examples of the madness that we are experiencing, within as well as without, but in here they are clearer, more effective and more concrete. That's why you increasingly believe that there is no way to call this madness to order, other than by destroying your old bathroom.[i]
"Neither slaps on the hand nor intimidation tactics will be of any use."
The evidence that this putrification must be stopped – a putrification that is now floating on the surface of our country, after having eaten away everything that once held it together from within – is in every respect clear, in general and in the details, only more so from within than from without.
And that is their catastrophe and ours – that they really don't understand: they don't understand that these young people are truly fighting for a cause. This is obvious in their mockery: "So you're the ones from the Revolution"; "The ones who will liberate Egypt."
They believe that by eradicating the people who believe in an idea, they can kill the idea itself, indeed: they are an armed herd of the ignorant and the blind. There is no way to heal them of their ignorance so long as they possess weapons, power and force which give them the illusion of possessing everything, even reason.
I know that it may be cruel to my family and friends, especially in the state of fear and concern that has overcome them; and having put them in this situation may be the only aspect of this experience that pains my soul. But I have to make clear to them and to others like them that what they suggest is not a solution so long as people remain in prison as a punishment for having dreamt of freedom.
I would remain a prisoner, even if I were outside. And we will all remain prisoners in their massive jail; but I did what I did in order to feel free and to take back my freedom before it became nothing but a memory for the prisoners – and in order to preserve the last ray of light cast by the Revolution and by the dream of the time when I felt that someone must do this.
"We're not the the people from the bus, Officer Sir, we're the freedom people."[ii]

[i] The reference here is to a commercial in which it is said that it doesn't make sense to fix an old bathroom, it's better just to blow it up and buy a new one.
[ii] This is an allusion to an Egyptian film in which two people who are arrested for not having a bus ticket are mistakenly put together with the political prisoners and tortured so that they will admit to some political crimes; they keep saying "We're the people from the bus."

Translated by "Freundeskreis Ahmed Said" (Circle of Friends Ahmed Said) Dec. 2015. You can get in contact with the circle on Twitter @freeahmedsaideu and mail fkas [aet] riseup [dot] net.