Milwaukee and Western
January 28, 2011 8:00-9:00 am
As I am waiting for the water to boil I turn on the radio. The top story is the riots in Egypt. Today the Egyptian government has cut off all internet access and cell-phone use to prevent protesters from organizing. The riots have been in my periphery over the last few days, but this headline makes me snap to attention. This level of censorship is incomprehensible.
Just the day before I received an email from my friend Amira who is living in Cairo re: Urgent Call from Egypt. The email stated:
Please circulate as wide as possible
A Call to the People and Governments of the Free World
We call upon all of you to support the Egyptian people’s demands for a
good life, liberty and an end of despotism. We call upon you to urge
this dictatorial regime to stop its bloodshed of the Egyptian people,
exercised throughout the Egyptian cities, on top of which comes the
city of Suez. We believe that the material and moral support offered
to the Egyptian regime, by the American government and European
governments, has helped to suppress the Egyptian people.
We hereby call upon the people of the free world to support the
Egyptian people’s non-violent revolution against corruption and
tyranny. We also call upon civil society organisations in America,
Europe and the whole world to express their solidarity with Egypt,
through holding public demonstrations, particularly on People’s Anger
Day (28/01/2011), and by denouncing the use of violence against the
We hope that you will all support our demands for freedom, justice and
Egyptian National Coalition
And so on this day, January 28, People’s Anger Day, Sara and I hug on the corner of Western and Milwaukee. We are not protesting but we are demonstrating. We are denouncing the use of violence. I hang on to Sara as commuters bustle groggily past, most barely even noticing us. A cop car pulls up to the light. For a moment panic strikes me — we’re going to be in trouble. A cop is going to get out, tell us we are breaking the law and we have to stop. But the light turns green and the cop car cruises through the intersection.
Today I am grateful. I am grateful for my liberties, grateful I can stand on the corner of a busy intersection and hug my best friend. I tell Sara about the news report. She says that if mass protests happened here that our government would cut off the internet and cell phones, too. But we don’t organize in such large numbers here. We just complain. I guess for Egyptians thirty years of complaining about a dictatorial regime was enough.
From what I gather from Facebook posts, my friend Amira is safe, although stuck in her apartment as riots and protestors storm the streets below. This hug is dedicated to her and to everyone fighting for democracy in Egypt. I will continue to dedicate my hugs to the cause until Mubarak steps down. I am enraged and hugging from afar.