Full text of my interview with an Egyptian protestor

so I only edited this slightly for readability… One more thing, I don’t claim to be a journalist, just someone who saw what was happening in Egypt and wanted to help in whatever small way I could. That being said, here it is.

Vanzetti: So well that’s it if you’re ready we can start

Al Masry: i as an egyptian am very gratefull tho, i’d gladly tell u anything u need to know. im ready

Vanzetti: Sweet. Ok well first question, In your opinion what sparked the recent unrest in Egypt? Were people expecting something like this or not?

Al Masry: this recent unrest was actually expected years ago. this revolution if you may, is considered belated. we have had many demonstrations in the past alot of opposition parties have risen against the current government but people were always scared. the army and the police force are all loyal to the president, in previous demonstrations women get harrassed and men get beaten up and jailed with no conviction under the name of the “emergency law” which entitles such a thing.

Vanzetti Ok 2: so I’ve been involved in the anarchist movement and others for a few years, when I go to demos there’s usually a mix of people in the street. My question being what is the general mood of people? Are more asking for reform or revolution? A follow up q: how might you classify your political beliefs?

Al Masry: Egyptians have lost hope in any reformation. Elections are all fixed, Every official on every level is corrupted, the president embraces his chair and wants to inherit it to his son “Gamal” and as such he employed a very corrupted extremely hates interior minister who in his turn employ corrupted officials and thats how the whole heirarchy is.

Al Masry: follow up: like almost most of Egypt, do not embrace a certain political party, we are the students, sons, brothers and sisters of the country who are tortured, stolen from and denied their rights in everyway everyday. We dream of an Egypt from the era of “El-Sadat” Egypt’s previous president

Vanzetti So I talked to my friend who is originally from Egypt about what’s happening and he said from what he’s seen of Egyptians he’s surprised but pleased with their reaction. What I’m getting at is apathy and moreover a sense of ones agency. My question is was there one event or spark which brought us to today’s situation in Egypt? Also on a more personal level have you always cared about change and revolution or was there an event that sparked your interest?

Al Masry: alot of sparks led to this. These sparks however are when more than half the country are under the line of poverty. when doctors earn around 200 EGP per month which can be spent in a week if you starve yourself. when officials inherit their positions and get medical treatment abroad on the country’s account, when the ordinary newspaper agent around the corner is randomly grabbed and tortured till he is dead and they threaten his family to be silent about it, when women get harrased and we get treated like enemies in demonstrations. when people stopped eating meat because of the rise in prices by atleast 50% every 3 months, when later the loaf of bread have become expensive for the ordinary Egyptian and now that the bread is not even enough. An atmosphere of complete loss and wanting either a change or death have taken over the country for the period of the last 30 years. Tunisia saw that we have been trying everyday and it gave them confidence, and their success boosted our confidence. like a wake up call. what are we afraid of? is fear a valid motive to stand down anymore? if i stand down am i alive anymore? thats how every egyptian felt on a personal level: mentioned above and in addition to that I as the rest of the 80 million in Egypt have always cared about that change. every individual has seen the tyrany of the current regime, and would rather die than spend another day with it.

Vanzetti Fantastic answer. I have like 5 more questions if that’s ok.

Al Masry: 100 more if u need

Vanzetti K cool. Ok so twitters dns being shut down in Egypt has made the news. In the us we’ve been able to use twitter for communication at demos. My question from your experience, how are these demos being organized? Are they spontaneous or more planned or a mix? And also how does a free or unfree Internet play into that?
Al Masry: It started with banning Skype and all voip services some time last year, they say because that brings down the economy however on a national level we understand that they tap every single phone call and conversation, but they couldn’t with skype because the gateway is not in Egypt. obviously all what the corrupt officials care about is to prevent a revolution since day 1. and so twitter was blocked and many rumours arose the past couple of days that facebook will also be down. Generally people have informed each other how to bypass all that. the problem with twitter however is that it cannot be trusted because many tweets are spies or the government. so they cannot be reliable for demos in Egypt although some people still use them. with facebook its better because you know the people and you know your friends. Demos are being organised using the balackberry messenger and sms and facebook groups. there is a group on facebook that has mobile phone numbers of the headquarters of the revolution if you may, in all cities. the general protocol is be in little groups then walk around until groups join groups, when the number reaches atleast 2,000 people then head to downtown where obviously 2,000 people and more cannot be pushed away easily

Al Masry: the internet is never free, never in Egypt, its all censored and watched constantly, in the past people have been arressted for downloading human rights documents and tortured accordingly. we try to make the best use out of what we can do on the internet these days

Vanzetti Word. Ok let’s switch gears for a second

Al Masry: okies

Vanzetti I’d like to ask a few non-identifying personal questions

Al Masry: sure

Vanzetti Ok so first how do you and the people close to you feel? Optimistic angry afraid a mix of multiple emotions? I ask this because demonstrating/fighting for change can be exhilarating as well as taxing.

Al Masry: it is indeed exhilarating and taxing. However fear is not in people anymore, optimism is not what drives us anymore. we have reached a point where our minds are set that this change will happen and it will happen now and the only way for us to be stopped would need more than a bullet to the heart. We literally have nothing to lose, and thats how we are stronger everyday despite any taxation or hunger. On the other hand Egyptians always stay as one in such situations since we got invaded since ever throughout history. on the 25th, the interior ministry forced the communications ministry to turn off signals of all phones downtown so that they cannot stream or contact anyone outside that area so that the world and the rest of Egypt do not know what is going on there, people at homes have removed passwords off their wi-fi routers and as such allowed the demonstrators to connect through their wi-fi and even capture live streams using “ustream” on their mobiles as well as upload pictures to facebook. at the same time the restaurants in downtown went out and gave the over 50,000 protestors free food and water so that they can hold on till the next day. That is exactly why we are not afraid, there is nothing to fear anymore and there are no hopes or wishes, there is change and only change we will accept.

Vanzetti Badass. Ok I have three more questions and Thats it

Al Masry: sure

Vanzetti So I found you today in this irc, so that begs the question how did you get involved with anon?

Al Masry: Egyptians have been trying for 2 days and we are getting absolutely no positive response although we have done alot more than Tunisia did. people started to think if there is no hope of winning then we will die trying. only last night the news about anon spread all over egypt that they are helping us with our struggle and they are not known and they are not looking for any credits or personal gaining from this. Egyptians immediately fell in love with anon and something as small as bringing governmental websites down and black faxing and emails bombing them have planted a seed in us telling us that we are actually not alone. and so as a result, I and many others of my fellow Egyptians want to show our gratitude and at the same time try to help in anyway. the media press release letter was what i first saw and it pushed me to search annonymous and opegypt and i found the poster and followed the instructions accordingly

Vanzetti Awesome! Good to hear

Al Masry: thanks again btw! we are all truely very grateful

Vanzetti Np. It’s the least I can do. Two more questions

Al Masry: sure

Vanzetti So I’m sure you must get this a lot but I’m kinda obligated to ask. Is the movement in Egypt inspired by the events in Tunisia? If so what lessons or inspiration do you draw from their actions?

Al Masry: as explained before we have always been trying over the past 30 years, generations after generations, Tunisia was not in a bad state as we are, we are the country with the biggest number of opposition parties, we demonstrated and we bled and we did over the years. Tunisia’s success has given the Egyptians this extra push, thinking, if a country as strong as Egypt with all the corruption in it and the so many tries and fails can’t do what only 10,000 Tunisians did in one day, then perhaps we deserve the failure and accepting it. Tunisia did not start it, but they surely helped with our confidence. 1 lesson and 1 inspiration was drawn from their actions which is “Bleed till you succeed”

Vanzetti: Word. Ok last question. What do you think the rest of the world can learn from Egypt and the Egyptians struggling? What might you say to someone who wants to see change but is too afraid or doesn’t know how to go about changing things?

Al Masry: I would say it is not easy, so as harsh as it might sound, if you do not think that you should take part, or if you don’t klnow how and don’t try finding out and if you are not set with a mind of “I will change it or I will die trying” then it won’t happen and the corruption is not to be blamed anymore.

Vanzetti Well personally man I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and people like you, my only wish is that I could be there in the streets with you but I’ll have to settle for this article. Thanks for the interview.

Al Masry: i understand, thanks alot for your noble feelings, and really thank you for what you are doing for Egypt

Vanzetti: My pleasure, being from the US it gets frustrating talking to people but people like you give me hope we might one day live in a world with real freedom and cooperation

Al Masry: I really hope so, and if the us happend to need an annonymous’s help I’d be more than glad to take part

Vanzetti: One last thing, my email is xxxx.xxxx@xxxxx.com so if you or anyone you know has pictures or would like to do an interview I’m probably going to do a series on the situation in Egypt as it progresses. Oh yeah and I can use a sudonym If you want otherwise I’ll just say an Egyptian or something like that

Al Masry: ofcourse. i will spread the word and I will be sending you pictures that my friends uploaded to their profiles and other revolutionist groups, some you might have seen already and some not. sudonym is fine really, “Al Masry”

Vanzetti: Cool

Al Masry: which translates to “The Egyptian”

Vanzetti: Thanks again I’ll let you know when I finish this

Al Masry: thats awesome, my pleasure. thanks to you again.

Vanzetti I will do my best to do the situation justice

Al Masry:Thank you very much, I’m sure if the 80 million Egyptians met you they’d thank you alot more than I do
Al Masry: thank you

~ by Vanzetti on February 4, 2011.

3 Responses to “Full text of my interview with an Egyptian protestor”

  1. I really wanted to read, but this format is horrible formated. If you really want people to read this please do some more formating.

    Nobody cares if it was 3:40 AM. Please put a blank line between answer and question. And make the names bold.

    f.e. this would be much better to read:

    Vanzetti: In your opinion what sparked the recent unrest in Egypt? Were people expecting something like this or not?

    Al Masry: this recent unrest was actually expected years ago. this revolution if you may, is considered belated. we have had many demonstrations in the past alot of opposition parties have risen against the current government but people were always scared.

    the army and the police force are all loyal to the president, in previous demonstrations women get harrassed and men get beaten up and jailed with no conviction under the name of the “emergency law” which entitles such a thing.

    Vanzetti Ok 2: so I’ve been involved in the anarchist …

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