Monday, May 22, 2006

The Story of The London Public Meeting

Believe it or not but there were more people attending this meeting that the demo, I have a feeling we are actually getting our voice across.... we were around 65 this time.....

We got this comment from Heba Moussa (she was one of the attendees of the Public Meeting) and I thought I'd share it with you:

"Everyone it was FANTASTIC and INSPIRING to see all of you today at Lancaster Hall meeting..I got a massive rush of adrenalin having so many like minded people and voices packed into one was really great, I don't know how come I never knew about all of you before...I've obviously been looking in the wrong places! Will see you Wed and Thursday!'If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito!. Heba Moussa "

anyways.... more about the meeting itself....

Just 2 weeks ago if anybody had told me that we'd be standing in front of the Egyptian Embassy in London voicing our anger about the government actions I'd have definitly said this is way too optimistic for me.... Now... I found us not just remembering stories about the beautiful Saturday 13th of May when we deicded to break this barrier of fear and take an extra step towards freedom..... but also remembering this night when we felt that we are not alone.....

The idea of campaigning for the Egyptian cause among the British public never seemed an attractive one for me... I always thought how we should concentrate our efforts in only making sure we get all the Egyptians here and back home to have a common stance against the government.... now I can tell you that I was definitly wrong.. and I was not only wrong because it is important to explain to the "Public Opinion" world wide what is happening in Egypt, but more importantly (at least for me) I felt that I was not alone and that there were others who really understood what we were talking about.

Take a look at the old English lady in the Photo below, I do not really remember her name but I'd definitly never forget what she had to say.. I remember very well that while Mr. Kamal Bayoumi was talking about how many of the English activists marched in protest in the streets in 1956 against the British Government for teaming up with France and the Zionists and attacked Egypt she looked at another old fellow and simled gently at him as if saying "do you remember that time?" .... I automatically guessed she was there, after we finsihed our speeches she raised her hand in enthusiasim as she had something to share. She told us about her trips to the Cairo Conference and how at the first year she attended the conference it was difficult to get to the meeting place because of the 'tanks' and the armed soldiers who were everywhere around it.... (i looked at her old age and realised how stamina is not really related to an age, it is a matter of a lively spirit and cause to live for).... she then talked about the last Cairo Conference she attended (the forth) and how she was impressed with the totally different of young men and women protesting outside the conference venue because of the closure of a newspaper... she wondered .. where did the soldiers go? and she was very proud those young protesters managed in occupying this space from the armed soldiers. (my dear lady... the soldiers are trying to take it back from us.... ). She spoke of how this new spirit that is filling the Cairo air will change the whole of the Arab World....

Captions from the Meeting.....!!!

not intending to go in order but just wanted to mention the parts that made me think or things worth mentioning.....

The Story of a Regime

Mr. Kamal Bayoumis (Egyptian Committee in Support of Egyptian Judges) started the meeting by narrating the story of the regime that started since the assassination of Sadat, he talked about how the way the regime was functioning facilitated the concentration of nearly all of the authorities in the country in the hands of one man. He spoke of how this unprecedented concentration of authority was a tool that was used afterwards to crush whoever stood in the way of the executive power and how it is the Judges, the students, the protestors, the prfessors, the engineers..etc. are the one who are paying for it at the moment. He spoke about the current dynamism that is spreading through the Egyptian society fueled by the unmatched brutality of the regime that is fighting for its life in what seems to be its last fight.

Yvonne Ridley

Yvonne is a British journalist who was kidnapped in Afganistan a while ago, she returned bacl to the UK with a lot to tell about her experience. She is currently presenting "The Agenda" program on the Islam Channel which is one of the most progressive channels in the UK. Yvonne was chairing the session and she talked about the history of the Egyptian security forces in using brutal and violent means in dealing with the regime's opponents. She said that she will make sure she talks about the Judges cause at her program to give her viewers a better understanding of what is happening in Egypt.

Blogging the Egyptian Resistance

I really had nothing to say, so I decided I would tell them about my experience with blogging and how it opened up so much for me in terms of getting to know more people, and in getting more exposed to the real Egypt that is far beyond the official newspapers. The oppression that youth is suffering from pushed them away from the normal places where they could voice their opinions to the virtual world whrere the government had less control and where their identities could be kept safe if they wanted to. This oppression pushed them to make the best out of their blogs to express what they want to say and to reflect the reality of their lives in Egypt... the result was a huge Egyptian blogsphere that contained blogs talking about all sorts of topics from politics to poetry to economics to story telling to culture...... The youth managed in devicing a new form of resistance that the authorities are still trying to catch up with but the witty bloggers are not easy to catch just like the mercury slipping off your hands. I still remember how I worked with a group of bloggers after the May 2005 demo in collecting and documenting all the testimonials and stories about the government brutality of that day, the result was a document that reflected many of the encounters of that horrible day in Egyptian history. Though I never saw nor met them before we got closer and I started feeling that I became part of a larger group that is tied together by its love for its country. I STILL have not met any of them but we are always in touch and they had their contribution to our London demo (whether by sending flyers or by publicisng the demo on their blogs).... so long live Egyptian bloggers who managed in taking the fight to where the government is helpless. WE WILL NOT FORGET OUR 6 DETAINEES!!

Ahmed Orabi

Anne Alexander (Stop the War Coalition) told us abot a story from our history that I find very interesting. She told us that the Egyptians are from the very first nations to fight Imperialism, and they did not just do that locally in Egypt but they actually gained international support even in the UK itself. She told us about Ahmed Orabi and how he was popular in the UK and how the Egyptian cause was viewed as a Just cause at that time.... his popularity was to the extent that English lawyers volunteered to travel to Egypt to defend him against the Imperialist British occupation. This story proved to me once again that when your cause is 'just' it automatically attracts the support of all those who believe in justice.

The Road to the Cairo Conference
John Rees (Vice President of the Cairo Conference) talked about his journey with the Cairo Conference and how it started with visits to Cairo that invloved meeting with small groups of activists that gradually grew until it reached its peak with the huge demo that occupied El Tahrir square after teh invasion of Iraq. He said that the current movement pro democracy movement materialised when the national movements agains the war on Iraq realised it stood on the opposite side of the government who did not strongly oppose the war on Iraq. At that point the question of how 'real' is the reflection of the government of the true hopes and fears of the people are, this was the first spark that initiated the current movements. The Cairo conference now has become a gathering for many international and national organistions that oppose the violent aggressions on both Iraq and Palestine by the Americans and the Zionists. It also includes those organisations that oppose globalisation with all its threats to the welfare of the people.
Egyptian Youth in the UK
A very important discussion was sparked e has by a question that Ramy (photo above) had asked. Ramy was wondering why the Egyptian youth living in the UK was not involved in the campaign and why Egyptian youth in general was not interested. Many dismissed Ramy's comments and said that the Kifaya movement depends largely on the support and activites of its young members, and in the UK many of the members of the Egyptian Committe in Support of the Judges are from youth. Ramy has a very strong point however as the Egyptian community in the UK is the second biggest Arab community and thus the participation of the Egyptian youth should have been much more. It is still the beginning however and maybe Ramy's note whould be a motivation for us to stretch our targets and try involving more and more Egyptian youth in the UK.
Dynamos behind the Scenes
There were lots of dynamos behind the scenes that participated one way or another to the day and the coming demo on Thursday.
Guy Taylor (Globalise Resistance), Chris Ninehaim (Stop the War), and the Egyptian Committee members: Rania El Malky, Alia Mossallam, Dina Soliman, Sherif El Sayed, Omar Massoud, Inas Ismail, Hoda Baraka, Nariman Youssef, Dina Soliman.... Finally a thank you to Somaye Zadeh the Iranian girl who managed in getting the endorsement of her syndicate (BECTU) on an announcement condeming the current police attacks on the protestors.


At 9:12 AM , Anonymous Zeezo said...

Well done to everyone who organised this meeting. It was inspirational!

Will definately be there on Thursday!

At 10:40 AM , Blogger Zeinobia said...

I am very very happy indeed with this great success

hope that the demo on thursday in Shallah will be much more successful

At 11:04 AM , Blogger Hanna Grace said...

Your efforts are extremely important to us here in egypt. Togather towards better future for Egypt as modern state, and a libral society.

At 3:51 PM , Blogger Boring Lips said...

Hello Ahmed,

This is a very good post. Your blog is really nice in general. Keep up.

I believe that we have to spread those actions taking place in Egypt and the views of many Egyptians across the interntional public. I, personally, don't trust governamets much.

The image of Egyptians standing in front of the Egyptian emabassy in London showing their anger thrills me. It tells the regimes much, also, it presents an important part of the Egyptian scene to the British public. I salute you.

We can make use of this marvelous facility...The Web to spread it across greater number of people.

I hope we share thoughts about that and try to find a way to accomplish it. If you have any idea you can contact me anytime. If it is mine I will tell you about it anyway.

Also, it will be amazing and really useful to work on any subject other than that as long as it aims at the same thing which is better Egyptian society.


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