(In collaboration with The Shukran)
“Bread, freedom and social justice” is a slogan that still runs through the streets of an increasingly confused and troubled Egypt. This sentence was coined four years ago, during January 25th uprising, when Egypt started her most glorious revolution in 2011. Since then, these words were shouted loudly. They were written so indelible on the walls. This slogan has been painted on people’s souls; particularly on the souls of those who never gave up on revolution. Today these words survive whilst remaining silent. They convey a strong message able to overcome the death, physical abuses and military repression. Simply put, this sentence has the power to unite people.
An agonizing cry against social injustice or simply an icon against any kind of oppression that progressively is killing human pride and dignity, as unfairness is choking the nation.
“Bread, freedom and social justice” is a still living expression; It revives whenever innocent blood is spilled.
Eight hundred and sixty two innocent souls were killed for asking freedom in 2011. Today, Egyptian basic freedoms are stifled by an oppressing military democracy. The regime has illegally jailed many Journalists and “thought” can be a prosecutable crime. Egypt’s disregard for basic rights like free expression is nothing less than shocking. Egyptian prisons are full of innocent civilians, many of them imprisoned without due process. On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the uprising, Tahrir square was sealed off by the police, completely empty. Demonstrations are not anymore allowed and freedom of speech is not protected.
Thus, if there is an issue that will motivate to keep the revolution, it is surely the utterly unfulfilled call for social justice that still reverberates throughout Egypt.
Freedom in Egypt is the name of the latest social media campaign launched few days ago on The Shukran to remind that the Egyptians are not fighting this battle alone.
The voice of freedom brings people of the world together because, quoting Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. For this reason, the Egyptian struggle should not exist in isolation from ours. The Egyptian revolution is important for all struggles against militarized power, exploitation, class stratification, and police violence.
“February 2011” by Moataz Bonser
“Bread, freedom and social justice” are the last words uttered by Shaima al-Sabbagh, a 32-year-old mother, who was shot in the head by police in Cairo on Saturday 24th January 2015. She was shot while she was marching towards the Tahrir Square to lay a commemorative wreath on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
She died brutally by saying her last few words full of dignity. It is well know that words are powerful tools when it comes to changing the world. The regime was not threatened by a woman holding flowers. It has been threatened by a woman who deeply loved Egypt and the Egyptians. She campaigned on behalf of three “Al Jazeera” journalists who have been illegally locked up behind bars in Egypt. Moreover, she advocated for Workers’ Rights and Egyptian youth.
Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, was shot in cold blood, leaving her five-year-old son behind. She surely has been a courageous mother who fought for the rights and the future of young people.
She stressed the importance of empowering youth and amplifying their voice in efforts to promote social equality and intellectual development.
In these four years, the youth are the ones that have been betrayed and disillusioned the most.
But in dark moments, such as the following, we should not give up. Hope must not die. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”, as Martin Luther King used to say.
Freedom has a high price. Some Egyptians have sold freedom in return for stability. Yet, unfortunately, the military stability is not a synonym of freedom nor security.
Revolution as a global struggle, with the quest for peace being one that spans all countries, cultures, and religions.
Shaimaa, Martin Luther King and others freedom fighters taught us we must not stop our peaceful struggle! We must continue and get stronger. Let’s continue to counter-act peacefully against police terrorism. For the sake of a civil, accountable Egypt that, today than ever before, has to consider social justice and civil liberties as its top priorities.
SUHAIR EL QARRA
Member of Euro-Med Women Network (Council of Europe)