"Here is the martyr; he was always observing; but not for once he made of religion a commodity to sell; he looks like every other Egyptian; he reminds of the feast prayers; here he is like a pigeon in the spacious heart of a mosque; Sheikh Emad; he was always a light that never went dim; he was freedom and he was justice but he was never for sale.”
Such goes a few lines of a poem that Ahmed Haddad wrote on 16 December two years ago, upon the killing of the celebrated revolutionary and humanitarian Emad Effat.
Entitled 'Sheikh Emad,' Haddad’s poem captures a sense of pain and grief that two years later he still thinks dominates, “as those who killed Emad Effat and other martyrs” have never been brought to justice.
“I could still write about the pain of the families of the victims and I know that they are still grieving; I know it today as I knew it back then, when I wrote this and other poems,” Haddad says.
'Sheikh Emad' is one of a collection of poems under the name Azizi Foulan (Dear Unknown) that were written on the eve of the January 25 Revolution, and then during its 18 days and beyond the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, and throughout the months that led to the 2012 presidential elections.
In every poem Haddad leaves to his readers a moment he captured from the saga of the revolution, which he says is “still unending.”
“But this what I really think; the revolution has not come to an end and the reason is obvious. We still have the demands that we protested for and that are still to be met. The martyrs, including Sheikh Emad, Mina Daniel and others died for the call that has still to be heeded, and people like Ahmed Harara lost his eyes for these demands to be honoured,” Haddad says.
Emad Effat died on 16 December 2011 during a post-January round of protests; Daniel had died earlier on 9 October, while Harara lost one eye on the Friday of Rage, 28 January 2011, and the other on 19 November 2011, during the Mohamed Mahmoud Street protests.
“At the time, I could smell martyrdom in the air and today I feel the presence of the martyrs whose sacrifices would be violated if we were to give up on the demands of the January 25 Revolution,” Haddad argues.
Haddad is convinced that two years after the shocking death of Effat, the prominent Al-Azhar clergyman who was always at the forefront of the revolutionary protests, the nation is still coming to terms with the fact that the euphoria that followed the stepping down of Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011 was premature — the celebration of a victory that has still to be delivered.
“We thought we were done, but we were wrong, because the remainders of the Mubarak regime are still to be defeated. We thought we found our path towards democracy, but we were misled — and in fact betrayed — by the elected Muslim Brotherhood who simply turned their backs on the January 25 Revolution. We are going through a phase of division and a moment of depression. We find inspiration maybe in the memory and sacrifices of the fallen heroes, or in the hope that we still hold for a better and a more beautiful Egypt,” Haddad said.
He added: “Whatever the details, the revolution was not silenced and the revolutionary will not be silenced.”
Haddad is convinced that the poems, documentaries and graffiti that captured the revolution are a form of resistance against all attempts to “bury the revolution alive.”
The demonstrations of 30 June, Haddad argues, that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood elected president Mohamed Morsi, only one year after he ascended to office, was another episode of resistance to silencing the revolution and the revolutionary.
“Mubarak said that the revolution would endanger stability and Morsi said it would endanger the course of the revolution when neither Mubark worked for stability nor Morsi worked to honour the call of the revolution,” Haddad added.
“The fact of the matter is that stability was lacking because injustice ruled, and the revolution was a call for an end to injustice. Injustice is still to be defeated, and on the road towards fairness there might be more martyrs. But one day we will make it, and it is only then that we would have honoured the memory of the martyrs, including Sheikh Emad whose words and positions still inspire us,” Haddad states.