Egypt's Women of the Revolution! - A List of Martyrs, Mothers, Activists for 2011
A founding and active member of the No Military Trials for Civilians, which brought the cause to public attention by campaigning nonstop. The group says at least 12,000 civilians have been inside a military courtroom since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in February; some released, but the unlucky others received unusually harsh sentences with no appeal and sometimes interrogated with no legal representation.
Seif, who is a cancer researcher, managed to document and expose the injustices of the military tribunals as well as other military abuses. Now you can find their yellow sticker that reads “I am against military trials for civilians” possibly anywhere, on car window shields, doors, laptops, bags or on the mouths of an activists while s/he protest.
But for Seif, who has been arrested more than once and has received her own share of beatings, the cause got more personal this fall, after the arrest of her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah, with the military accusing him of vandalism and attempted murder following the October 9 Maspero Massacre.
While the young activist shows no backing down, general hopes are held on the campaign reaching more people and bringing an end to military trials. Mona Seif is becoming one of the country’s most prominent activists and a source for anything military trials.
Last summer, a group of girls were arrested from the iconic Tahrir square and taken behind the nearby Egyptian museum by the military. The rest of the story involves beating them, electrocuting them with tasers, and of course, the virginity tests.
Ibrahim was one of these girls who the officers pulled down her pants to make sure that she was a virgin. A military doctor was doing the examinations while a number soldiers stood at the door taking pictures of the girls.
A high-ranking military source told CNN that “these girls are not like mine and your daughter, and they could accuse us later of making them not virgins.” That was the only official admission of the barbaric test. From all the girls whose humanity and dignity were taken from them that day, Ibrahim decided took action.
She spoke openly about the events of the day and documented her testimony and is now suing the military council, who denies the practice ever took place. Ibrahim is a true fighter, doing what she believes to be just and right, even if it means ignoring what others have to say.
A nameless hero of Egypt. She was beaten down on Friday December 18. She laid on the pavement while four soldiers abused her and hit her with batons. They dragged her from her clothes, snapping her dress open, and showing her bra. The fifth soldiers had his left leg in the air on its way to hit with great force on her chest and lungs. Her image, half naked, beaten and abused made headlines around the world and confronted many with a not so new reality: the military is escalating its violence, in the process no red lines, women and elderly, will be assaulted, beaten, molested and dragged on the same street that saw them protesting against the military.
The “Tahrir Girl,” as she was nicknamed, remains anonymous, and refuses to make any public appearances, making her every Egyptian girl.
The “mother of the square,” this elderly woman is there whenever a protest or a sit-in is in progress. She said she likes to go out and “support her children in the square.” The 50-something old woman was beaten brutally by the military and detained on the same day as the Tahrir Girl. She begged them for mercy, but instead received slaps on the face and batons on the back and lower back.
“I am soar of course, but what hurts the most is that I had to say I am sorry to the officer to let me go,” she said in an interview with ON TV.
Her video “I go out to the street on January 25” was watched by millions, in which the activist explains why Egyptians should revolt. A founding member of April 6 Youth Movement and possibly the most recognized female protester in the country, Mahfouz was also brought to the dark side of post-revolution Egypt.
She was summoned twice by the military prosecutor for posts and opinions she wrote on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but her immense popularity pressured the authorities to pardon her. Still, Mahfouz is a clear target of the anti-revolutionary sentiments and the military, where she faces harassment and death threats, yet Mahfouz is not slowing.
She nominated herself for parliament, but suspended her campaign in opposition of the bloodshed caused by the military attacks on protesters last month on Mohamed Mahmoud. Even though she lost the race, she remains a vocal and fearless advocate for freedom.
The politician protester, Botheina Kamel has gone from a talk show host to a viable candidate for president in less than 6 months, when she first announced her candidacy. She is at the frontlines of almost every demonstration, has been arrested and assaulted by the police and military, yet remains stalwart in her demands of the military’s removal and a greater role in politics by the activists who made elections possible by ousting Hosni Mubarak in February.
Although she has not taken up the mantle of women’s rights per se in the country, she has won the hearts and minds of the young activist community by her continued effort to participate as an activist first, politician second. She has made headlines across the globe by her continued candidacy and vocal antagonism against the military junta in power.
At the next protest, whether the military stays away or not, Kamel is likely to be at the frontlines, participating in the revolution she hopes to one day lead, and lead by example she has.
Daughter of poet Ahmed Foad Negm, the apple did not fall far from the tree. The ultra-simplistic minimalist man raised his only daughter to be a loud voice for freedom. Now writing a daily column for Tahrir newspaper, where she heavily and directly criticizes the ruling military council for their actions and calls them out on it, with a sarcastic tone, Negm follows the family tradition of staying true to one’s values. Her humorous use of language makes her accessible to many readers.
She is also avid into participating in political change happening in the street and has appeared on almost all the main talk shows in the country, delivering stark words for a country fraught in military dictatorship.
The first female martyr in the 18 days of uprising last January, the image of her showing her turning her head in laughter became a symbol of the beauty of the revolution and what the country had to sacrifice to overthrow a 30-year old dictatorship.
Zahran, in her early 20s, was shot while in her flat looking out on the square from the balcony. “The flowers that flourished in the gardens of Egypt” is the only caption used under her image. The Egyptian rose that was gone too soon.
Khaled Said’s mother
Khaled Said, the young man murdered by the hands of police in Alexandria in June 2010 was one of the most important forces behind the early 2011 uprising. The photo of his disfigured face was shared across the country and sprouted the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said,” which was instrumental in calling for January 25 to be the first day of revolution.
The page continued campaigning and asking Egyptian youth on Facebook to take to the streets and protest the death of Said and others. Khaled Said’s mother turned into a matriarchal symbol: “she is every Egyptian mom,” but she lost her son to the police and an uprising was dedicated to his soul.
She makes appearances at numerous protests and sit-ins, despite living in Alexandria, and she takes the time to support all the Khaled Saids out there. She is well-loved and respected by the community and she graces any assembly with her warmth and wisdom.
The female face for ON TV, Egypt’s best and arguably most vocal in delivering the true happenings to the country on a nightly basis. Maged has taken up the mantle of detailing personal stories of protests and police and military violence against Egyptian citizens. It was on her show that Mama Khadiga delivered a harrowing recount of her beating at the military’s hands.
Maged’s “Biladna bil Masry” has become one of the most respected and nuanced programs in Egypt in the post-revolution atmosphere. She does not back down from a challenge and has battled with the most prominent thinkers, conservative and liberal alike, to deliver a picture of the transition that has become threatened by the military. No story is off the table for Maged, who has undoubtedly inspired a new generation of women activists and aspiring journalists.
By Manar Ammar