Articles Personal

Finding My Voice

2004 was the height of the blogging when I joined at that time famous, Egypt political scene was starting to stir up with the rise of Kefaya Movement in 2005. I thought of starting my microblogging platform for the Arab world in 2006, instead, I opted for starting a blogging platform and called it independent bloggers (i-bloggers and later on The term citizen journalism was on the rise, so I adopted the concept on my new portal and displayed a mixed news from news agencies and bloggers. In 2008 I joined twitter and was one of its early adopters in Egypt.

However, I was very frustrated with not doing anything on the ground and kept thinking of what I can do to change my country. When my grandfather died (Ibrahim Shoukry – opposition leader and a political legend) it was the time to think in a more practical way than just writing. It was 2008, the year of hope when Obama took office.

Raised in a politically active family, I chose to put a plan to run for parliament in my grandfather hometown. Started visiting Shirbin (a city in Delta, Egypt) on a weekly basis to get to know the people and their problems. Then Dr. El Baradei (my Onkel ) visited Egypt in 2010 and coined the word “change,” he galvanized everyone who wanted to see our country in a better situation. I continued my pursuit for change, meeting thousands of people talking to them about the need for change, and telling them that, if the young people don’t move, no one will. I was very convinced that if enough people rallied on the election day, forging the result will be much harder for the government and if it did, it would be a big international scandal.

Dr. Baradei movement asked for boycotting the election; I got frustrated because after all the effort I put and after the people showed me a promising understanding of my will. Besides my main target was to participate in creating a critical mass for change.

I waited to see the political parties decision, which was a mix of boycotting and rallying. Finally I decided to move and continue my campaign, arguing that if the boycotting didn’t include everyone, it would not be effective.

Every day I saw my chance of winning a parliament seat increasing, nonetheless I was getting tremendous positive feedback. On the election day, I saw the truth with my own eyes were thugs and vandals stormed the election ballots rooms and destroyed the boxes and even through some of them in the river. Later on, I had a box in my house collected miles away from the election office as evidence. I felt sorrow and profoundly sad, watching the gloomy faces of my supporters who had hope in change and our dreams thrown away.

Two days later I had a court decision stating that the election was forged, and that the election is void, however as always, everything stayed as it is.

On the 25th of January, the Egyptian revolution revolted and as many as other young Egyptians dreaming for change, I was one of the participants. From day one after Hosni Mubarak left I thought of founding a political party. In may 2011 the Eladl party was founded, I was one off three main co-founders. It was the second party founded after the Freedom and Justice party (Muslim Brotherhood) in 2011. Months later the parliament election was held again and we had our list under Eladl party name. We couldn’t pass the voting count limit to succeed in the lists however only one candidate under Eladl sign won a seat, as it was mixed list and single seat election system.

I lost against the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in a re-election where I managed to get 102 thousand votes and lost by 7 thousand vote difference.

I was now a leader of a party with no seats beside the single seat secured mainly with personal efforts. When the presidential election was due, we didn’t have a party candidate and voted for a call to the presidential candidates, who represented the essence of the 25th Jan revolution, to coordinate and to choose only one candidate to avoid of dilution of the votes.

Many members of the party despite the party decision rallied behind two revolutionaries who faced each other, Dr. AboElfottouh and Hamdeen Sabahi. After the election ended, the party structure shook because of the election process and members leaving for choosing to rally behind their individually preferred candidate and later on because of the election results. The two final candidates were Ahmed Shafik and Mohamed Morsi. Just before the announcement the winning of Mohamed Morsi the parliament was dissolved. Months afterward we held our first convention and election of a new president for the party. By the end of 2012, the party was like an empty room with a nice sign “justice party.”

I took a different path and resigned from the party and chose to take a break from political activism while watching the new wave of political parties forming. El Dostour founded by Dr. El Baradei, Misr Al Qawia by Dr. Abo El Fottouh and El Tiar ElShaaby movement by Hamdeen Sabahi.

In May 2013 I joined Misr Al Qawia party being the one more organized, and myself voted for its founder in the presidential election.

Two months afterward Morsi was ousted by massive street rally ( I participated in) backed up by the deep state, judiciary, media, police and even the army which gave the final statement for Morsi to listen to the streets. Two days later the defense ministry now president gave the first communique. We entered a new era of pollical struggle.

On the eve of 2014, I got a call from a friend saying that he heard a telephone conversation between me and another, aired on television, it was a smear campaign for all the activists who participated in the 25th January revolution.

I was very active in my new political party Misr Al Qawia, elected to be a member of its political bureau and appointed to be its head, and later on appointed as the vice president of the party. For more than two years I wrote tens of open-eds and blogs and gave the final signature on all the party official statements.

In a state run by a security minds, surrounded by people who themselves or their friends got interrogated by security forces or banned from traveling, you are always under pressure even if it’s just a potential threat. Fighting terrorism and collateral damage are terms and reality that can justify anything that happens to you or your relatives. Political activities are on hold and will be on hold for a while.

I decided to take another turn; I resigned from all the political positions in the party.

I resumed my running habit and started to train for a half marathon,  a couple of months later I finished two half marathons, and learned to listen to a podcast while running for long distances. I have found that the Arabic content in the podcast medium is fair in quantity and quality on this not widely known.

Six months passed and felt that people and myself are desperate for hope and I needed to engage with this situation in a new way. I started my new podcast show named independence – ideas that changed (استقلال – أفكار غيرت), a cultural podcast aimed at discussing ideas that changed people or the community, pushing positive thoughts into the society discussions.

Moving from blogging to microblogging than to political activism, passing through a revolution, founding a party, writing open-eds than leading another party and now podcasting, I always searched and reached for a new medium to put my voice, hoping for a good change.