This week, I watched a group of people get shot by riot police. Their only crime was to be walking around the city of Cairo. One was an old woman. She might have been 50. She was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. As the police dragged her off the bridge, they began to beat her. She was already bleeding profusely. I don’t think she was a protester. She was not holding a sign or anything. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Another girl was grazed by a rubber bullet. It was the same with her. The police dragged her down the stairs and began hitting her in the face. She was crying. My friends and I walked over to her to try and help treat her wounds. Eventually the secret police came back to beat her. I stood in front of her and stared him down. He said: okay, okay. And walked away. We linked arms with the girl, who was terrified. Other people walking through the police line in front of us were being beaten as they passed.
I will never forget the things I have seen in the past few days. Egypt has been my home for almost 3 years, but I have never been prouder or more impressed with my friends here. When looters, most likely gov’t thugs, started looting the city, my bawab and neighbors sat in front of my apartment protecting their families and me (with swords nonetheless). I can’t begin to tell you how meaningful that is, especially after hearing from friends whose house was broken into and they were held at gunpoint. I can’t begin to tell you how meaningful that is when you hear gunshots down the street, knowing you had no way of defending yourself. The Egyptian people are special. They have taken care of each other throughout all of this, and they have taken care of me. Right now, the lives of thousands of people are at stake. Many of those people are my friends. They are not terrorists. They are chefs, engineers, graphic designers, newly weds, Christians, Muslims, atheists, women, men, children. They are living in the square to ask for a simple demand- Mubarak must go. They want a free and real democracy. Because of that, they are being attacked by their own government. I cannot pretend to be nearly as brave as them. But I can do something about the way my government interacts with theirs. This is the least I can do.
We can end police brutality. Use your voice… people in Egypt are dying trying to find theirs. Ask Obama to stop funding a police state in Egypt. We are all aware of the international economic crisis. Your hard earned tax dollars are being given to Hosni Mubarak so that he can oppress his people. I don’t know about you, but this makes me mad. Let’s ask our government to stop. Call your representative and demand that military funding be cut in Egypt.
– Christina Gagnier, on the power of ordinary Egyptians calling for change in Cairo. Originally posted on Facebook.