It is only natural that people go to sleep not sure that they will wake up alive the next day, but what is not natural is the new feeling I have these days.
I go to sleep everyday not sure that I will wake up to go to work the next day, I go to sleep waiting for the 3 am knock on the door. The State Security Officials (or the “dawn visitors as Egyptians have been calling them since the Nasser era when the regime used to crack down on its political opponents through mass arrests) have been especially active over the past few weeks, harassing tens of families, and threatening tens of children and parents of political opponents.
For over 50 years now, the successive Egyptian regimes have chosen one way to deal with their political opponents: imprisonment.
No matter what this opposition group’s ideology was – leftist, liberal or Islamist – it could only be allowed to function safely if it was not strong enough. As soon as the group becomes a powerful opposition force that could threaten the interests of those in power, prison would be the only option left for the regime – the price of freedom, democracy and dignity paid by thousands of honorable Egyptians with different political views.
This imprisonment usually starts with a knock on the door around 3 am; a knock that terrifies children and babies, one that could even be fatal to worried, older people. This knock is probably the worst thing a political opponent could face.
Not only will this knock signal a temporary halt on my freedom, but it will also mean (at least to me) that my parents will have to suffer seeing me driven out of my warm bed and away from my loving family to a cold cell with a group of political prisoners, and in some cases a group of criminals.
My mother is already afraid. With this unappreciated activism of the dawn visitors, she keeps calling me all the time to make sure I am safe. The mother’s love and tenderness have put her in a very awkward position. On the one hand, she believes in what I am doing, she loves this country just as much as I do, and is proud that she has brought up her child to love this country and care about its future.
She is proud, I am sure, that this love and care is translated into positive action; it has been translated into a peaceful struggle for reform in a hope for a better Egypt.
On the other hand, my mother is afraid. Everyday in the news she sees and reads about tens of honorable men getting arrested for doing the same thing I am trying to do. I know she hates it when she says that, but she wants me to freeze all my activities and calm down on my calls for reforms.
She could not believe the accusations made by the state-owned media, which claim that these arrests are to protect the safety of the country and the well-being of its people. She knows quite well that those honorable detainees care about their country much more than those who arrest them.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that a person accused of wanting to establish a political party (that was the accusation that sent Muslim Brotherhood members to a martial court and prison in 1995) to oppose the regime cares more about the country than a regime that illegally holds over 20,000 political prisoners, and has led Egypt to poverty, corruption and underdevelopment, despite all their promises.
Personally, I am not afraid, but rather upset. I am not afraid because I know that freedom is not granted, but earned. I know that there is a price for this freedom, and I value freedom, justice and equality so I am willing to pay this price. I am not afraid because I trust in Allah, and I know He will reward me and protect me (even if I’m imprisoned) if I am sincere in calling for reform for the good of my country.
Of course I hate to compromise my freedom, and I want to sleep confidently in my warm bed, but I would willingly give it up for the freedom of my country; and would willingly face injustice if that was what it takes for justice to prevail.
What upsets me though is that if I were arrested, I would be imprisoned for the wrong reasons. Every human being is by nature a mixture of good and evil. He does virtuous and bad deeds. Good people are those whose good deeds significantly outnumber their bad ones, and not those who have no bad deeds.
So being human, I too do some good things, and some bad ones.
I usually exceed the speed limit when driving or swear at other drivers in the street. I may sometimes be rude to people; I do not always pray on time, I am not always nice enough to my parents, and I sometimes pay some “extra tips to facilitate the flow of legal requests in government offices whenever necessary.
But ironically, none of these would be reason why I might be imprisoned or punished.
The reason would be that I love my country.
I could be punished for peacefully working to develop my country. If I was punished, it will be because I once dreamt of a better, safer, more developed and more civilized Egypt, and then decided to work to make my dream come true. Just like other Muslim Brotherhood members, if I was punished, I would only be punished for the right things I do.