Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bullets and Brides

La Marsa, Tunisia: 8AM

In general, I try to intertwine the personal and political in my writing. I fear that I often fail to strike the right balance in this. There are times that the personal and political seem to be at complete odds with each other. I have tried to highlight these times. Does this point to some larger truth? I do not know.


It has been two days since the military opened fire on demonstrators just after fajr (dawn) prayers. The two accounts remain contradictory. The military claims that the Muslim Brotherhood tried to storm the Republic Guard headquarters by force. Many opposed to the Brotherhood claim that they purposely tried to provoke the military in order to gain sympathy from the international press. In contrast, the Brotherhood maintains that it was premeditated and unprovoked attack. New video has surfaced on the incident but it still does not answer the question of who started the confrontation.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a national uprising in response to the massacre, leaving open the possibility that things will escalate even further.

Regardless of who started the conflict, the military showed a reckless disregard for human life, slaughtering over 50 people and injuring hundreds. It now appears that they also targeted journalists during the clash, murdering Ahmed Assem, a photographer for Egypt’s Al-Horia Wa Al-Adala newspaper,  as he filmed from a nearby building.

The video shows a grainy image of a soldier firing from the top of a nearby building. After several shots, the soldier points his riffle at the camera and the screen goes blank, ending the life of Ahmed Assem. An old colleague of mine, Sofia Arias, compared it to the murder of Leonardo Henrichsen by the military in Chile in 1973. He too documented his murderers on film, capturing his death.

When documenting atrocities becomes a death sentence, freedom the press is the first casualty.


On Sunday, my boyfriend of four years flew in from London. He had been studying in Oman for the last
seven weeks. Originally, we had planned to be reunited in Cairo this past weekend. However, the toppling of the Morsi government made that impossible. Instead, he came to Tunisia. Shortly after arriving, we took at walk along the Corniche by the sea in La Marsa, a suburb of Tunis, and he asked me to marry him.

In many ways, this seems like frightfully romantic story: political conflict, a coup, evacuation and our final union. In other ways, it seems shocking that life could continue as normal in such circumstance. I now find myself in a picturesque seaside town away from the turmoil in Egypt for the rest of the summer.

Even in Cairo, life continues in spite of the fact that the future remains unclear. This morning an acquaintance posted pictures of her Katb el-Kitab, the signing of her marriage contract that makes a couple officially married in Islamic law. It is similar to the marriage ceremony in our tradition but is usually only attended by the family of the bride and groom.  As the happy couple beamed out from the photos, I was struck at both how immensely hopefully and strange the image was given the circumstance. The simple truth is that life goes on even in times of great turmoil.

The Revolution continues without me...