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Bangor’s 12-year-old Ayah Rahman: ‘I believe in Egypt’

Posted Oct. 10, 2013, at 12:39 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 10, 2013, at 2:31 p.m.
Ayah Rahman
Courtesy photo
Ayah Rahman

I believe that the people protesting against the recent military coup in Egypt are on the right path. I believe this because they are standing up for democracy, freedom and human rights for their families and themselves.

It all started in January 2011, when the Egyptian people were tired of living under the rule of a dictator and the cruelty of the police force. The president at the time, Hosni Mubarak, had ruled Egypt for 30 years. So the Egyptian youth planned mass protests, using Facebook and Twitter to help them call people to the cause.

The protests and demonstrations were held all over Egypt but, most importantly, in the center of Cairo, the capital of Egypt, in Tahrir Square. My aunt, Sarah Attia, her husband, Khaled al-Qazzaz, and their children participated in these protests. All Egyptians had a great dream for Egypt. In just over two weeks of protests, Mubarak stepped down.

Soon after, Egypt had its first ever real democratic elections. More people came out to vote in those elections than had ever voted before in the history of Egypt. The country elected its first democratically elected president, Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party. My aunt’s husband, Khaled, was the new secretary to the president for foreign affairs. Millions of Egyptians were happy and looking forward to a new and better Egypt.

But the new democratic system lasted only one year. The military, with the help of the people who still supported Mubarak, carried out a military coup in July. Morsi, Khaled and many other members of the democratically elected government were detained.

These men, who worked so hard to make Egypt a better place for all Egyptians, have been held for more than three months now. Nobody, including their families, know where they are held. Nobody has been able to visit them.

The Egyptian people, who had voted for their new democracy, started protesting against the military coup and its leaders. Sit-ins were set up in Rabia Al-Adawiya Square and An-Nahdah Square in Cairo.

My family suddenly decided we had to go to Egypt. We booked our flights and left the next day. We had to be part of these peaceful protests. We are so lucky to live in the land of freedom and justice for all, and we want the same for our native country.

Every day I went to Rabia Square with my aunt, mom and dad. We stood among hundreds of thousands of people. Everybody was kind, peaceful, generous, respectful to each other and unified in their demand for peace, democracy and freedom. It was a wonderful experience I will never forget.

We left Egypt on a Saturday, and the following Wednesday, Aug. 14, I woke up to hear that the military had attacked and destroyed Rabia. The Egyptian army and police had massacred thousands of people. So many children were orphaned, and some were even killed.

Rabia, my favorite place on earth now, no longer existed. I was so sad. I cried.

Now there is no Rabia, but millions of Egyptian people continue to protest against the military coup everyday. They take part in marches and demonstrations on the streets of every city, town and village. They have learned from the experience in Rabia that staying in one spot makes them an easy target for the military, so the protests are always moving.

The military continues to throw thousands in jail, including young girls and boys. One boy, about 14 years old, was finally released and came out with a horrific story. In jail, the military had shocked their bodies by throwing boiling water, then freezing water, then boiling water, then freezing water, on them over and over. They don’t kill them, they hurt them just enough that they are in extreme pain.

Another frightful story is about a 10-year-old boy whose father had just died in the Rabia attack. The boy was a student in a public school (public schools in Egypt are run by the military/government), and every morning they made them sing a song about how great the military is. He raised his arm and held up the Rabia sign, which is four fingers. The school principal took him to his office, beat him, then threw him in a tiny, dark closet for four hours. Then they called his mom. She couldn’t believe it! His father had just died a month ago.

It has been more than three months, and the Egyptian people have not given up their peaceful protests. Even the kids in high school and middle school are protesting in their schools. It is amazing, and I wish I were there with them! The Egyptian people want a true democracy. They are standing up for their rights, for their freedoms and for their votes. They will not go back to living under a military dictatorship.

They will not give up. This is why I believe that the people protesting in Egypt are right. They are making history.

Ayah Rahman, 12, wrote this piece for an assignment in English class. She is a seventh grader at William S. Cohen School in Bangor and wants to be a journalist when she grows up.

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