The Revolution is Being Televised on Aljazeera

Houssam_Hamalawi_Al-akhbar

There is a terrible silence that fills the space around me when the voice of Ayman Mohyeldin stops, as i notice that my internet connection has broken and the web streaming of Aljazeera has yet again been interrupted. The constant soundtrack to my January school days in this cold Ohio city. I refresh the page, press play again.

You don’t know how many times i’ve wanted to text or email you to come and follow the news with me. The only someone here who understands.The only someone i know here who cries and curses at the t.v, bil 3arabi w bil Englizi, even more than i do. But the storm and the school are keeping us apart, and i am left alone watching passively a collective uprising on my computer, writing about myself (read, individualism), writing in a language that represents imperialism. I’ve joined one protest on my university campus last week and will attend another one this weekend, bas I join knowing that this is only to make *me* feel better; it will not help the Egyptian people. I don’t imagine i would be feeling any different if i were in beirut right now.

The protests, in beirut or in ohio, will not help the revolution in egypt, but they do serve a purpose: to protest in Beirut helps us understand how arab “leaders” are conspiring with their fellow dictator, how the security forces, in egypt and in lebanon, are mobilized to protect those in powers through crushing the people. But to protest in ohio is evidence of how far we really are from home, and how little the u.s cares about our little gathering on a Saturday afternoon. It will not make me any less of a passive receiver who’s watching the drama unfold. And i have to be ok with that. I have to accept the limitations to what we can do.

The news from Ta7rir square isn’t always good: the attacks on the protestors and journalists aren’t stopping. Bas neither is the resistance. But today there was news of Algeria lifting its long running state of emergency, and it’s a timely reminder to how lucky we are to be living during this period. To be watching, experiencing, and fighting the dictatorships of our countries (and hopefully soon the dictatorships of our sects as well). And yes, i’m hoping that the end of arab regimes will also bring us closer to the end of an apartheid zionist state and the beginning of citizenship based on equality and justice.

I’m swinging between anxiety and anger, pride and despair. I read a tweet that an elderly woman has been killed in the attacks against the protestors. And tweets by defiant women dispelling the rumors that they are being sexually harassed in the Square. And though i don’t believe that women’s participation in these protests—in Egypt and in Tunis, is spelling a new age of more rights for women, but rather that it reflects their current position and their gains in their societies. Bas still, it’s good to remember what i’ve never forgotten: that the women are as brave and as engaged in changing the political landscape as the men. No, that they are braver because when women take to the streets they are defying a fear of groping hands as well as the fear of rubber bullets. And that they are even are more engaged in change, because ours is a double, sometimes triple battle, against political powers, patriarchy and other entrenched forms of domination. If anything, most of our battles begin when the crowds return home.

Silence.

I refresh the page.

Press play again.

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