I met Ahmed in July of 2011. A sit-in protest against continuing military rule had been declared, and we all marched out to the streets in Cairo and to Tahrir Square to start an 18-day sit-in, despite the sweltering heat of the summer. The democracy movement I was involved with was assigned the security of one of the main entrances to Tahrir. Our job was to check every single person coming, by frisking their bodies and any bag they were carrying.
Ahmed was not part of our movement, but he was working hard in the security team at that entrance. His big build and experience in martial arts and his strong and passionate heart made him a natural leader. Whenever fights or disputes broke out (which were often), people would turn to him to resolve the situation.
Through all our shared experiences, of fear, laughter, eating together, protesting together, we soon became friends. We shared a similar outlook on suffering and I soon began to realize that it was his heart and his courage that had exposed him to too much suffering. He was always at the front lines with his friends or colleagues and, after several deaths, he wasn’t able to distance himself from the pain.
As the months went on, we all witnessed new protests, crises and death and the more exposure this young, brave man experienced, the more the pain and sorrow were suffocating him. It soon turned into a very deep sadness that started guiding his every action.
The betrayal the protest movement experienced from so many of the Egyptian people was one of the last things he could handle. The whole nation looked on as we protested, calling us thugs or jobless kids. Rejected in Egypt, Ahmed began to look at a people and a nation that was more in need of help than we were…Syria.
The massacres, the killing, and the destruction, drove him to believe that if he could just get there, he could fight and try to help. But ultimately his goal was to die a martyr.
He found the people he would travel with, packed his bags and said his goodbyes. Until at the airport he was refused permission to travel. It was here that I saw the hand of God intervening.
I don’t know how Ahmed’s story will end, but he is not unique in his experience. Many people suffer from disillusionment, post-trauma stress, and a multitude of psychological disorders that result from exposure to death, violence, and continued disappointment.
Now, after the recent retirement of the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Egypt appears under the total control of the Muslim Brotherhood and the future we had hoped for seems to recede further and further. Many of us wonder what is next. Emigration or extended travel for work or studies has become one of the most commonly discussed topics among Christians, political liberals, and even many revolutionaries.
However, in blind faith I believe that there is hope for this nation. Not because of what we are experiencing, but because of what I believe in. I believe in a God who is greater than any force of man or the devil. I also know that many of us did try very hard to prevent our country from getting to this point. But it doesn’t mean failure that we weren’t able to do just that. Whether change comes now or in years to come, I will still keep on seeking the good of this country.