August 17, 2013
He looked to his right then his left following the Imam at the end of the Friday prayer and looked around him at his friends’ weary yet determined faces . Ayman’s words have been echoing in his head for two days now . He remembered the reporters on the news last night repeatedly saying, “These protestors are armed and violent and want to burn the country down tomorrow. “ He knew that something tragic is being planned in order to fuel more violence to be pinned down at any anti coup demonstrator. He knew they wanted to create violence so they’d justify the massacre. He got up and approached the door of the mosque to put his shoes on. Ahmad and Ayman have been inseparable since birth, literally , they are identical twins who shared the love of football , swimming and of course; Egypt. Ahmed went on to study engineering while Ayman chose law. Like most Egyptians, their feelings towards their country changed ever since 25th Jan 2011 , they felt prouder when saying “ I am from Egypt “ to any foreigners they met . Although they had different choices at the ballot box , they never looked at one another with a sense of superiority.
Ahmed stepped out of the mosque and immediately felt the heat of the scorching sun, but somehow it didn’t seem to affect him. While all the men were putting their shoes back on, a quiet voice chanted, “ Yaskot yaskot hokm alaskar “ which translates to, “ down with the military rule.” Another even quieter voice chanted back . Two other men joined in with the chanting as they beat their fists towards the sky . Within seconds the crowd was exploding with chants that were only intensified by the heat. They screamed their chants one after the other and the crowd chanted back as they made their way through the streets to Ramsis , downtown Cairo . As they were marching their chants changed and became even louder , they threw their fists higher and harder towards the sky and kept screaming words of pain and anger about the massacre they had witnessed Wednesday 14th August at Rabaa Square ; which was where they all met and have been protesting peacefully for 45 days straight. Ahmed could not unsee what has happened, he could not unsee the blood, he could not unsee his friend being sniped down when he was trying to film the police forces removing the barricades the protestors put up around the square to protect themselves from the brutality that they have been threatened to face if they do not leave the square. Mostly, he could not unsee the tragedy that was the makeshift field hospital. Bodies lying around and a few doctors running around trying to save the wounded. But is there much to be done for someone who received three bullets in his chest?
Ayman’s face flashed in front of Ahmed as he was chanting and he found himself leading the demonstration. As the protestors made their way to Ramsis, they were joined by other protests throughout the roads which made their chants turn into energetic roars . Ahmed was surprised at the state of peace he was in although he was in a rather hectic situation; but somehow the loudness seized to exist and all he could hear was the voice of truth echoing in the streets and getting louder with every step. His friend looked at him and said , “ I would rather die here standing up for what is right then rot at the prison they want to take us to silence us .“ Ahmed knew these were the exact thoughts of all of the protestors today. The ministry of interior bluntly told the press last night that live ammunition would be used to stop anyone from “terrorising” the country. Of course, Ahmed knew that the term terrorist is not limited to …well… terrorists, but is now used to describe anyone who opposing the military coup and is brave enough to shout NO. After Ahmed’s live viewing of the Massacre that took place Wednesday, he knew he would be a target. He knew that his death would be justified because someone else committed a crime by assaulting a church. He knew that somehow fingers will be pointing at him because he was opposing of the coup. All over the media , the word thug or outlaw has been replaced by the term “ Muslim Brotherhood member” and unfortunately Ahmed knew how viewers never question the media although the national media has shown nothing but hypocrisy throughout the 25th Jan revolution . Any violence that took place anywhere was claimed to be created by MB members; as if they have a uniform or walk around the country with the words MB plastered on their shirts while they destroy and burn. Ahmed did not belong to the MB either, But was labelled as such because he was against the military coup.
The chants were now louder than any other time he has heard, even louder than the chants they chanted at Rabaa Square. Ahmed and the demonstrators approached the 6th October Bridge, in order to make a turn and get to Ramsis square . As they marched on and were all on this very long bridge , they heard the sound of heavy machinery and realised the police tanks completely blocked the entrance to the bridge .
A moment of silence. He remembered how powerful he and the thousands of protestors felt during those 45 days because he knew the truth was on their side.
Queue tear gas.
The extreme burning sensation and inability to see or breathe efficiently may have blocked their vision , but only made them more determined to fight for what is right. Ahmed and the rest of the protestors ran in the other direction, but their roaring voices did not stop. As they hurried towards the end of the bridge, they were only surprised to see more police vehicles at the end . They found themselves trapped between tear gas at one end, and armed forces that had the clearance to use live ammunition. After fumbling around for a few minutes; one of the protestors found a rope and used it to help the others climb down the bridge to the streets. As they began to climb down; Ahmed could hear bullets being shot in the air. The sound of these bullets reminded him of Ayman and how he should go check on him. He climbed down the bridge and joined other demonstrators at Ramsis square. As they continued to chant and exchange stories about the Rabaa Square Massacre two days ago, Ahmed took his phone out to call his parents and check of Ayman. He was interrupted by screams, the sound of gunshots and people dropping to the ground. Ahmed was no stranger to this scene anymore. He knew what was happening; a new massacre is being executed. Ahmed did not want to run anymore; neither did his friends, they stayed in the square and took cover behind a big container. Ahmed really wanted to make that call. But it was impossible to hear anything because of the nonstop gunshots.
Ahmed’s friend stepped out into the street to start chanting again. He succeeded , first thing he did was open his arms wide and scream “ NO WEAPONS , I HAVE NOTHING “ and starting chanting. For a moment the gunshots’ stopped. Other protestors joined in and chanted back too. Ahmed finally made that phone call.
“ Dad , are they still holding Ayman’s body in the mosque? Are they still not letting you in?”
“ I want to see him , they have the mosque blocked from all doors and all of us out here are waiting to identify our children and family, I don’t know why are they doing this. He is dead. Isn’t it enough they burnt the field hospital with the killed and wounded in there! I want you to know I am proud of you, both of you, you can’t bring your brother back Ahmed ”
“ I know dad , but I cannot live with myself knowing he was murdered and do nothing about it , this inhumanity and injustice has to stop, do you know how many other Aymans are ahead of all of us if we do not stop them? Ayman’s last words were: You cannot stop Ahmed. I will call you back dad, kiss mom’s hands for me “
As soon as Ahmed ended the call , his friend with open arms was shot down ; Ahmed immediately jolted from behind the container to the middle of the street to drag him back to shelter , away from the snipers on top the bridge, he was joined by other protestors to help carry his friend. Ahmed reached his friend as he smiled at him and said, “I’m ok, we are right, what we are doing is right, I will always be ok.” Ahmed told him, “I know ! Let’s take you back and have a look at you.”
“ Hello? Is this Ahmed’s father? I found your number on his call log “
“ Yes, yes this is he “
“ Father , your son has been martyred “