An Egyptian activist living in Turkey
On January 25, 2011, as I was on my way to the Mustafa Mahmud Mosque, my dreams turned into a nightmare. I dreamt of advocating for justice, freedom, and dignity. In a blink of an eye, all of those aspirations were taken away from me.
I wasn't directly affected by injustice. I didn't suffer like many of my fellow Egyptians. I had a comfortable life; my husband was a public figure, an actor. We didn't have any problems with the police, but I knew very well that about 90% of Egyptians were suffering from poverty, oppression, and marginalization.
The revolution was our only hope for a decent life. The progress made from the January 25 Revolution was remarkable. It led to the first free and fair election in the history of Egypt. I was not arrested or accused of false charges, as many Egyptians are under Sisi. We seldom witnessed bombings or the censoring of television programs. It was the first year Egyptians enjoyed the freedom of expression. It also happened to be the same year I staunchly opposed the man in power. I even participated in the insurgency movement, thinking that it was a popular movement. However, I left the insurgency nine days before the military coup when I realized that the government intelligence services orchestrated the movement.
I became an ardent activist against the coup. I wrote opinion articles and participated in anti-coup protests. My activism led me to be arrested three times in three and a half years. I was mistreated in front of my children. With guns pointed at my head, I was imprisoned in a cruel regime's cell. Although I was fortunate to make it out alive, I had two choices: to leave Egypt or to stay and risk getting arrested under false charges. So, I left my country in December 2015 and fled to Turkey.
Sisi's regime is not comparable to Mubarak's rule. Mubarak was a dictator who hadn't crossed red lines. For Sisi, no such limits exist. Persecution goes beyond an individual, affecting their families, too. Under Sisi, not only was I forced to flee, but my two of my brothers and my husband's older brother were arrested.
Egypt has reached an unprecedented level of oppression and abuse. Sisi's prisons are filled with thousands of young men and women and the elderly. They've all met the same fate: accused of fabricated and high-profile charges. The hopes and aspirations that ignited the revolution were diminished in the 2013 military coup. Our dreams were turned into nightmares and our aspirations into fear. The homeland has become a giant prison.