By Parvez Sharma
At 1:15 am Cairo time on Saturday morning I spoke to my friend Ghassen. His friend was killed at Tahrir Square during the 24 hours of horrific violence we all saw on Feb 1st and 2nd. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time someone has been able to put a name and back-story to a person killed by the regime during this unfolding revolution. English is not Ghassen’s first language so I have taken the liberty of creating complete sentences from our fragmented conversation, partially in Arabic, to enable easy reading. I have no way to confirm the details of this death, but I know Ghassen revealed his friend’s name after some hesitation. (With confirmed reports I have from friends now that the regime is “trolling” the internet, I am also changing his name. Ghassen is not his real name)
Me: How are you feeling?
G: I am OK but my country NOT OK, Parvez…I hope people are getting this message about Mubarak Dictator. Mubarak is corrupt and his people are corrupt. I am sad.
Me: Did you go to Tahrir today as well like other days?
G: Yes I did. Of course yaani. Today started after salat elgom3a [Friday prayers]. It was very powerful. Even the sheikh was crying when he were praying. I prayed too. But I am Muslim, but my Islam are free. Many of my friends are Coptic. They not pray but they protect us.
Me: Every time the praying times end, people seem to feel new energy and start chanting again, right?
G: Yes. Parvez, 2 million people say this word in Arabic. ارحـــــــل
Me: Erhal, Leave?
G: Yes. I felt so strong when I pray there today. But also very sad because I remember how friends I lost through this revolution.
Me: Wait! One of your friends died?
G: Yes one of my friends-he is doctor. He was in Tahrir. He was treated patients. His name Mahmoud. People from Mubarak system going to our place, where we standing with horses and gamal [camels]..holding weapons…they hit him on his head many times. He died. But we are peaceful revolution. We did not have any weapons. And through that night also they came from Mubarak system…they want to put us out of Square Tahrir…The fuckin bad system. We lost this night I think 10 people and there were 1000 patients, who hurt. It was night of February 2nd. Night was Magzara. It was massacre night. I donn know if u understand me or not maybe have bad english
Me: I understand. Tell me more about Mahmoud please. It is also important to know his full name because he is already gone, what can they do to him anymore. No one has been able to name people who died you know. Did you go to his funeral? I know this is difficult to talk about. Please forgive me. But it is important.
Me: Are you there? Silence…Can you please tell me his full name…this is important Habibi…
G: His name Mahmoud Maher. I was not there at the moment he killed. I was on my way home. My friends called me to tell. Yes I went to his funeral. It is at Masjed Rabba. It was Mubarak people of course that kill him. They are paid a lot of money to kill us that day.
Me: How are you feeling about all this.
G: I am shock Parvez. I just wake up and go Tahrir and I am shock.
Me: You still live near Heliopolis? Near Mubarak palace?
G: Yes I live in Nozha. You know Masr el Gadida. Near Hosni Mubarak home.Masr el gadida. Why you asking this question?
Me: Because cameras have been so focused on Tahrir. We have seen no images from that area really. That is all, trust me…
G: OK..yes it is calm place. People have good life so you can see nice car. Calm place, not crowded. No police but you know Mubarak live there so they must save by a lot of Egyptian armys.
Me: Its far from Tahrir. How do you get to downtown everyday?
G: I take taxi. There are taxi when no curfew is happening. I think Parvez we doing the right thing. The Mubarak system are loses. Mubarak should leave now and then in six months we move our system to another in calm way.
Me: Do u think people will give up fighting? Feel exhausted? Tired?
G: Nooooo! There is a lack of confidence in the system lost its legitimacy and Hosni…we have to save our requests, if Mubrak will do that or not we dont know yet
Me: How does your heart feel my friend?
G: I feel Square Tahrer is here, if he lie or something happen wrong we will going there again …but for now feel we have to start work
Me: Wait so you are saying you want to go back to work and not protest?
G: No …. Mubarak know our requests ….and he get the lesson…if he lie or bad thing happen we will back again to square…dont know yet really am so confused…mubarak he lost his legitimacy from 25-1…why he donn leave egypt
why he still…no one support him…no one like him…no one want him…
people talk here he want to save his money till going out …but I do want to go to work…I go to work and then I join people in Tahrir…tomorrow…
Me: I know. My other friends say they also want to go back to work but also don’t know if they should leave Tahrir to go back to work. Listen how did Tahrir feel like today?
G: Tahrir? Heart of Egypt. Really, Heart of Egypt.
Me: That is true. You said it in three words my friend ;-)
G: No, it true…Lawyers of Egypt and Dr. workers, professors, judges, Muslims and Christians adults and children…Imagine 2 million people say leave Mubarak at one voice…2 million voice Parvez …I have lived one year in one week…No…I feel I am born again…I donn know why media from all the world donn send our voice
Me: No they are. They are sending everyone’s voice. You have no idea how much they are sending the voice.
G: Anyhow it is late. I am so tired. I will go to work and will back after work to square…My work in Zamalk near Tahrer square…and Parvez so much happening in rest of country too—even women were raped in villages on that night…and from Alex there is 2 million going out too…in Aswan there’s like 200000
Me: Go to sleep now…Yalla…shukran Habibi…stay safe ;-))
G: Yes. I go now. Please send me interview when they publish on my email. I want to see and show my friends.