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                Story Corp (Egyptian Revolution)

                      Interview Transcript

                   Interviewer: Omar Khairy

                    Interviewee: Ezz Kharma

                         Date: 2/7/2011

                Place: AUC Campus, New Cairo

              College: American University in Cairo

                       Prof.: Dr. Kim Fox

                 Date Completed: 7 Mar. 2011
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Today I’m interviewing Ezz Kharma, an AUC student activist in his early 20’s, living in

Zamalek. Kharma took part in the protests of the Egyptian revolution every day with his best

friend, Taymour Emam (Timmy), who, on the 28th of January, got shot in the eye with a rubber

bullet, causing him to lose sight in his left eye; an incident that turned Kharma and Taymour’s

motives to protest from shared reasons to personal ones. Taymour could not make it due to the

fact that he is in Germany for a check-up, but Kharma willingly agreed to share their bleak story

and personal experience of the revolution with us.

   1. Khairy: To what extent were you involved in the protests that started on January 25th,


       Kharma: (coughing) I was there every day till February 11. The curfew didn’t stop me us

       from staying in Tahrir Square (which translates to “liberation or “freedom”), and fighting

       to overthrow Mubarak and his regime. We set up tents and made it clear to our parents

       that we’re not leaving. The BBC interviewed my cousin, Nazly Hussein, a former

       AUCian. She talked on our behalf and pointed out: “I either leave here free or dead”. The

       only time I left the area was when I needed to shower and get food. So yeah, basically I

       was there the whole time from January 25th till February 11th.

   2. Khairy: What were your personal reasons for protesting in Tahrir?

       Kharma: (coughs) I started off protesting for the general public and the less fortunate who

       used to go to bed hungry everyday; for all the people and journalists who were

       imprisoned and tortured for expressing their opinions and criticizing our flawed and
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       unfair government. That was on the 25th, but three days later, on the 28th, my best friend,

       who I also consider as an older brother got shot with a rubber bullet in the eye. We stood

       there in shock not knowing what to do, and the person who shot him just looked at us and

       started shooting others in their legs, as if what he did was normal. My friend was

       screaming hysterically, and we actually saw the hole in his eyelid. We had no car and had

       to walk him to a hospital. People helped us and two strangers made sure he found a

       doctor before they left. Luckily, the hospital wasn’t too far away, but still, it was a

       horrifying experience, and I would never want anyone to go through what we went

       through. I’ve never witnessed anything so brutal in my life. For me, personally, the

       protests turned bleak and stirred anger. From that moment on, this anger was my weapon

       for change. Till this day on my friend still can’t see from his left eye and walks around

       with a patch on his face. The doctor here in Cairo said it’s too soon to find out whether or

       not he’ll ever see from it again, but it doesn’t look good, which saddens me because he

       still has his whole life ahead of him. He’s only 27!

   3. Khairy: Some foreign media outlets branded the revolution as “peaceful”. Do you agree

       with that term?

       Kharma: (laughs) I actually don’t. It started off peaceful, like a celebration for change

       and freedom, but things did turn ugly. It’s not just about the violence that the government

       brought or the weapons used or the deaths that occurred because if it was just that I might

       have agreed with calling the revolution peaceful, but that wasn’t the case. After Mubarak

       announced that he won’t rerun for presidency in September, pro-Mubarak people got so

       angry and went down to the streets the following day to fight with anti-Mubarak’s. Yes,

       some of them were hired, but not all. My relatives actually went down to support
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       Mubarak and some even got injured in the process. Once conflict rises between civilians,

       you just know for a fact that it’s not peaceful anymore. It’s funny cause freedom of

       speech is actually one of the things we were fighting for, yet people threw rocks at each

       other for having opposing political views.

   4. Khairy: I was going ask you more about Timmy, but since you already told us what

       happened to him that day, could you share with us whether or not this incident stopped

       him from protesting more?

       Kharma: It actually motivated him to fight more for our rights and for this government to

       step down. Like I mentioned before, this “anger” within us forced us to stay and refuse to

       leave the square without putting an end to this corruption. Of course he had surgery

       performed on him and had to stay home for a few days, but as soon as he got better, he

       came back to Tahrir and joined us once again.

   5. Khairy: So for you this whole thing was a dark experience rather than a celebration?

       Kharma: (laughs) Actually, no, of course bad things happened to us and I doubt no one

       went through obstacles of their own, but everyday brought hope. First Mubarak got rid of

       the government then the police left the streets, but as unsafe as it was, it made us believe

       that change after thirty years is possible, and that with each passing day, more and more

       of our demands were being met. We knew that we weren’t going to leave until all of them

       were met.

   6. Khairy: What about February 11? That must have been a celebration.
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       Kharma: February 11 was more than a celebration. I was never happier than I was that

       day. Still, I would describe this day as bittersweet. Seeing people holding up pictures of

       martyrs with “you can smile” written on their foreheads made me tear up. It’s actually

       funny because I was standing there crying, and Timmy was with me. Everyone else was

       screaming and celebrating. They must’ve thought I was a pro-Mubarak. Timmy’s eye

       doctor advised him against any efforts that have to do with his eyes so I had to snap out

       of it in order not to make him feel all emotional. I felt bad as it is because it was my idea

       to go down that day. I woke him and forced him to come with me the day he got shot, but

       he told me he would’ve joined me anyway.

   7. Khairy: So do you still protest these days?

       Kharma: Definitely not. It’s enough and more protesting will only do harm to our

       country. We got almost, if not everything we asked for and Mubarak and the NDP were

       both our main concerns, and now they’re gone. Now everyone will protest when anything

       goes wrong, and that’s definitely not for our country’s best interest, It’s simply a reason

       to stay in Tahrir and ask for more. Ahmed Shafick wasn’t given a fair chance, but now

       everyone wants change right away. They’re too impatient. It’s actually sad because Cairo

       now is in chaos. Reports of assaults and robberies, even rumors about rape and kidnaps

       have circulated. I just hope people can distinguish between what’s good for us and what

       isn’t. Otherwise, everything we fought for is worthless. We certainly wouldn’t want to be

       blamed for this chaos when the whole point of the revolution was to get rid of it.
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       Thank you for your time, and for sharing this with us. I can’t imagine how hard it might

       have been and I hope things get better with Taymour.

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