By Mohamed Hashim, IOLRadio
On his return from Barcelona George Orwell wrote in his classic , ‘The Homage to Catalonia’, “ There was much in it (revolution 1937 Spain) that I didn’t understand , in some ways I did not even like it. I was not sure that it could work. I was not sure that it did work, but I recognized that immediately there’s a state of affairs worth fighting for. That I believe is true whatever we can retrieve for the 20th century memory of social democracy”.
On a quite different occasion there were similar feelings being conjured up about the expansion and recently the sudden decline of Islamonline.net.
Yesterday on the steps of the Syndicate of Journalists here in Cairo much was said about a state of affairs also worth fighting for and a hopeful return to something worth collectively aspiring to.
The mutual feelings shared by the sacked journalists were stipulated by a passionate Megahed Sharara, “we should be angrier than we are, much angrier than we are, rhetorically, collectively and ethically”.
The protest at the Qatari Embassy was met with nothing more than a somber empty courtyard with no response from anyone except security, who were more than willing to direct the ex workers away from the building grounds.
Yesterday’s protest was not just a cry of voices but rather an obviously sensitive matter now, in the arena of other prominent Egyptian Journalists who were also part of the one hundred or so who stood for two hours in grueling 41 degree heat.
The loss of these much acknowledged journalists who have produced internationally acclaimed material at Islamonline.net were praised by the son of novelist, and short-story writer Ihsan Abdal Quddus’ whose literature was characterized by psychological themes that entered and changed Egyptian cinema.
Mohamad Abdal Quddus is also a prestigious journalist and was the key speaker at yesterday’s protest. He exclaimed the need for a democratic approach to this crisis and said that, “the protest on the steps of the syndicate is quite sad however a great metaphor of determination and a story of a group of influential people, who are not alone in their struggle to be heard”.
It seems that the achievements of the past decade have been nothing short of astonishing but what are to be the consequences of a failure to achieve a future, yet to be created and a collective purpose left hanging. “My profession, my profession and our message is for all”, were the chants of emotional voices with placards reading “Islamonline the last stronghold of freedom of speech”.
Abeer Al Saadi who is an academic and head of training at the Journalist Syndicate was very passionate when pledging support and admitting shock at all of this and repeatedly said that “the void left by the sacked journalist has been felt across the Arab world and the international community at large” and that it was the free speech and the language of the heart that will be mostly missed.
Other workers also want to know why and believe that there are instruments of distinction and power at play and at the political end there is an intrinsically elusive attitude. “The genuine, straightforward, blunt message that was Islamonline.net is no longer” says Ahmed Helmi, Editor of home page.
The protest ended with the sad but courageous raising of the arms by the 150 members that were all there to- in essence surface this issue as a call for the human rights of individual freedom as opposed to everything that is not. A precedent for Egypt perhaps, but surely not completely swept under the carpet just yet and maybe even a matter of affairs worth fighting for.