Saturday, March 14, 2015

Je Suis Shaimaa al Sabbagh?

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham. 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh: the unfortunate cost of non-violent protest. By K.K.W [of the 2 articles I read for info, one has her name as Shaimaa el Sabbagh, and Shaimaa al Sabbagh. Both by The New York & The N.Y.Times Insider]

Despite the violence that has marred the soul of, and lead to great changes in America, I think many of us [especially in NYC] take for granted what we have now. Few of us never had to put our lives at risk, for what we perceived as positive change. 

Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center]
Scrolling through Facebook on Jan 24th, I saw a post about the death Shaimaa el Sabbagh; shot by police in Cairo, Egypt while taking part in a peaceful protest. The group was headed for Tahrir Square to lay flowers in memory, of Egypt's derailed revolution [the next day was its fourth anniversary]. Apparently the police were using non-lethal pellet's instead of bullets [ironically]. She was hit in the face, chest, and possibly her back. Gallantly, she was rushed away by a young man [a friend actually - Sayed Abu Elela], only to die on the sidewalk, to the horror of bystanders. A young mother, poet, a secular socialist, she was not the first person or even female to be a victim of excessive police force in Cairo. The day before Sabbagh's death, another female protester, 17-year-old Sondos Ridha, was also killed. Ridha was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood [an organization supposedly hated by the state & secular opposition alike] and the lack of publicity over her death, and others has many just as upset.
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
The deaths of both young women highlight a regime that seems, hardly any better then the last, and where the rights of the individual are to often non-existant. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regime is under intense scrutiny after Sabbagh's death, which is unusual and perhaps a good sign. "Deaths have accumulated slowly but steadily since the military takeover in Egypt 18 months ago." [David Kirkpatrick]. The pro-government media generally stayed away from critical coverage aimed at the Police & government, but after el Sabbagh's death even they cannot ignore the problem. The "...state newspaper, Al Ahram, published a front-page editorial expressing rare, officially sanctioned criticism of the Egyptian police." [David Kirkpatrick] 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
And yet it seems, to little, to late in an area where such incidents are now regular, however brutal and senseless they appear. The incident soon reached many parts of the world, though I got the that it was only a momentary spike, compared to "Je suis Charlie". On Facebook I saw many [mostly French & non-French] change their profiles to an image of the phrase [Je suis Charlie], firmly afraid that free-speech was in utter danger - charming in every way. But what of el sabbagh? Do we reach out towards our those who also need, deserve and should have our support? I suspect some do, while many more feel no need to give it -if they know at all.

Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Mahmoud Taha/European Pressphoto Agency
Change is always difficult, especially when directed towards unwanted rulers and their governments. But history teaches that with time, effort, and unfortunately the deaths of many, such change will happen. "Few in Egypt expect the demonstrations or bombings to change the military-backed government any time soon. Public debate here is dominated by pro-government voices. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ruled by decree without a Parliament or other elected officials." [David Kirkpatrick] .  
Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center],
photo courtesy of Osama Hamamm.
Below is one of Shaimaa al Sabbagh's poems:

A letter in my purse

By Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, trans. Maged Zaher
I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her
Because the streets remember us together
The shops know her more than me
Because she is the one who pays
She knows the smell of my sweat and she loves it
She knows the different buses
And has her own relationship with their drivers
She memorizes the ticket price
And always has the exact change
Once I bought a perfume she didn’t like
She spilled all of it and refused to let me use it
By the way
She also loves my family
And she always carried a picture
Of each one she loves
What might she be feeling right now
Maybe scared?
Or disgusted from the sweat of someone she doesn’t know
Annoyed by the new streets?
If she stopped by one of the stores we visited together
Would she like the same items?
Anyway, she has the house keys
And I am waiting for her

If you would like to know more, go, Info for this article was gathered from both of these article by David Kirkpatrick. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

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