Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1280, (28 January - 3 February 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1280, (28 January - 3 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly


Compiled by Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh: Martyr of the flower

Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh, a young protester, political activist and poet, was the victim of an attempt to lay a wreath in Tahrir Square to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. She was shot dead although all that she carried were flowers. Stark images of her killing circulated widely, raising anger and rejection of police brutality. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi offered condolences, declaring that he saw Al-Sabbagh as his own daughter and promising that her killers would be brought to justice.

This week, on the first anniversary of her death, she is still remembered as a symbol of the revolution and “martyr of the flower.”

Al-Sabbagh was part of a procession of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party which moved to Tahrir Square to commemorate the revolution. As soon as the procession began, and without any warning, masked riot police officers blasted the crowd with tear gas and birdshot from across a narrow street. It was a shotgun that unaccountably killed Al-Sabbagh.

The picture of a kneeling friend holding her by the waist to keep her upright, blood streaking down her cheeks and his head against her abdomen will never be forgotten. The other picture of another friend carrying her limp frame, cradled in his arms, through the tear gas in a vain attempt to save her will also crop up in the memories of many Egyptian for many years yet.

As a teenager in the late 1990s, Al-Sabbagh had drifted into a circle of poets who used to meet at cafes around Alexandria. Her activism seemed to grow out of their cafe debates. She became one of a small group of published Egyptian poets working in the avant-garde style of free verse but using popular, colloquial Arabic. Rejecting the grand and overtly political themes favoured by previous generations, she focussed instead on the details of everyday life. Al-Sabbagh married a painter, Osama Al-Seheli, earned a master’s degree in folklore at the Academy of Arts in Cairo and developed a passion for documenting the fading traditions of daily life in Egypt.

After the revolution in 2011, she joined the Socialist Popular Alliance Party. She became a regular at almost every demonstration, and her friends in Alexandria called her “the voice of the revolution” because of her talent for leading chants.

The Egyptian authorities quickly pledged a full investigation into her death. But a few days after her death, the Interior Ministry ruled out police responsibility claiming that it was implausible that the police would resort to such force for such a small crowd.

Social networks showed a recent video of her only son Bilal, six, singing, “People are living happily, people are living in peace!” That is his childhood dream shared by millions of people inside and outside Egypt who sympathised with Al-Sabbagh’s death wish.

25 January Revolution

“The fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution is this week. People will differ about this revolution so long as various thorny issues fail to find an answer. Chief among these questions is who opened the prisons and detention centres and freed some 36,000 criminals, who set fire to the police stations and courts and managed to enter the fortress of the American Embassy, steal a car from there and hit the protesters in Kasr Al-Aini Street? Who planned for the Battle of the Camel and who benefitted from it?”
Hisham Attia, Akhbar Al-Youm

“25 January is a popular revolution that the majority of the people did not take part in. That is natural in most revolutions: part of the people starts the revolution and then the majority joins in. Besides, it did not produce anything bad, it just revealed what was already there, exactly like opening the press cooker during cooking.”
Rami Galal, Al-Masry Al-Youm

A message from Tunisia

The Tunisian experience demonstrated one fact that is proven on the ground in all the states that witnessed the Arab Spring: that “the people want reform”. The Tunisian citizens protested because they wanted reform that leads to better and more dignified lives. The citizen is not bothered by ‘who governs’ but with ‘how they govern’, and the steps taken to start reform, revive the economy, preserve his dignity and respect human rights.
Mahmoud Khalil, Al-Watan

A new concept

“We need to change our definition of the concept of revolution. We should make it a revolution to build, to face poverty and unemployment and to produce and market. Each individual in the family needs to work. If we have faith in this, we will be the most successful country in a few years. We will also be satisfied and proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Karim Abdel-Salam, Al-Youm Al-Sabei

Egyptian Essence: LE7 million in bubble gum

“A report by CAPMAS showed that Egypt imported bubble gum for LE 6,988,000 in six months. The report also revealed that Iran topped the countries that chew gum. 82 per cent of the Iranians chew gum, followed by Saudi Arabia, then the US – in which 79 and 59 per cent, respectively, practise this habit.”
Al-Youm Al-Sabei


“I believe a huge number of rebels have come to realise various matters like the meaning of authority or that of religion in a deeper way. Generally speaking, one can say that five years after the revolution, rebellion has moved from the phase of ‘fantasy of revolution’ to that of difficult questions and even more difficult answers. The attempt to find answers to those questions is in itself a phase of maturity and a transformation that is needed to make future changes.”
Massaad Abu Fajr

“Narrowing the concept of martyrdom down to the martyrs of the police or army or confining Egypt’s crisis to the crisis of their families is a simplification of the situation that the president should see through... Narrowing the issues that the country faces to the issues facing a certain sector drives us away from reform. The pain of a certain sector could be deep, but that of the state is definitely deeper.”
Hazem A Hosny


Hany Rasmy @hany2m  
AP: China signs investment deals worth nearly $18B with #Egypt.

Reuters @Reuters  
China’s Xi offers support to Egypt ahead of uprising anniversary.

marlyn @virtualactivism  
Wow!!! The timeline is soooo similar to the timeline on the anniversary of Jan 25, 2013. Under Morsi: all threats, more threats &more threats.

Miriam Elder @MiriamElder  
As Jan 25 anniversary approaches, Cairo police raiding homes and forcing people to show their Facebook accounts.

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