Portraits at Rabaa al-Adawiya

When President Morsy was removed from office by a military Junta thousands joined a month long sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya. State media reported that the protesters were terrorists, weapon wielding, foreign, mercenaries. These portraits are an attempt to directly photograph and quote the people I met in Rabaa al-Adawiya to decrease any distortion.

At this moment Egypt was entering a very precarious time. A significant part of Egypt put their faith in the democratic system and Morsy to represent their needs and address their grievances. That system failed, and their dream disappeared. Now they are living together in Raba’a Adiweya. Afraid of the police state that waits for them outside, waiting for God to intervene, believing that the army will split before it clears them out with force. The most important question in Egypt’s future is how the new government will re-integrate this significant portion of the population back into the system or will they be pushed further to the edges of society.

When Rabaa al-Adawiya was violently cleared and hundreds to thousands were killed in the ensuing violence many in this section of the Egyptian population lost their lives and their peaceful voices. Some of the cell phone numbers of the people in these portraits have been closed and I don’t know where they are.

Amal Mohamad Hassan, a school teacher from Shubra. “In the 90′s, after the events in Luxor, State Security broke down our door and disappeared my husband for a week. They didn’t have any reason or warrant, just that he was a religious man. This same system is now returning.”

Taher Gamal El-Din, a software developer from Atfiha. “Under Mubarak there were only 5 families that controlled all the wealth and power in the country and this corruption existed at all levels.” “I had a friend that graduated from law school with very high grades, when he tried to get a job in the court system he was refused because he didn’t have the right connections. Now he is a teacher.” “My grandfather was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but that was 40 years ago.”

Walid Ahmed, from Assiut. “I came to this protest because this is the first time we have chosen a president and I feel he should finish his term.” “I love Morsy because he is finally leading the country in a manner we want, and he respects us.” “Morsy has ended the war on Islam and there is more freedom.”

Manal Mahmoud of Zeitouna, is a grade school teacher in a girls school. “I have family in the army that think opposite from me and we have been split. We can’t talk about politics when we meet, but the army is made of our brothers, sons, and uncles.” “The Brotherhood combine religion and politics in a way that helps spread the idea of love that is Islam. They speak the truth.” “The Mubarak regime was a failure. There wasn’t any freedom of opinion and if I said Mubarak was bad I would be taken to jail. I have friends that were woken from their sleep and taken to jail. But under Morsy is the opposite.”

Ali Mohamed Saad, from Fayoum. “Under Morsy I daily feel the freedom of living under a civilian government, ruled by law, especially during elections.”

Tamer Sakury, a 36 year old Civil Engineer, a Nubian from Luxor in Upper Egypt. “Morsy is the first president to respect the Nubians and treat us like full citizens.” “Morsy has increased pensions and social benefits to the Nubian community.” “He had the idea to give free health insurance to all.” “He has helped farmers get their chemicals and seeds.”

Ramadan Shehaf, 41, from Atfiha, a town south of Cairo. “State Security broke down my door and tortured me with electricity, attaching leads to my fingers, armpits and testicles. They told me to scream louder so that my neighbors would hear.” “The liberals said we would use a democratic system. We won the presidency, and 4 other votes because we have the majority. If you don’t want us in the government you don’t want democracy.” “I will sit here until I die. I came here to support his legitimacy, The secularists have played with the people using the media to lie to them.”

Alaa Mohamed, from Minya, a city in southern Egypt. “I came because I want to defend my freedom and my right to vote.” “I love Morsy because he is from the people, natural and simple. I think he is better than Nasser, because Nasser only tried to unite Arab nations, Morsy’s project is to unite all of the Muslim world.” “In Mubarak’s days if I went to the mosque too often someone from the Interior Ministry would start questioning me and possibly arrest me. But with Morsy we are free to pray as we want.”

Awataf Mohamed Ibrahim, from Shubra. “Under Mubarak people that lived outside of Cairo, especially those in the Sinai and Upper Egypt were forgotten, as if they weren’t even Egyptian. Morsy gave them their rights and the supplies they need to work and farm. He provides them with investment and services.” “If we leave our children to these secularists they will grow up without morals.” “I didn’t have any relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, but after the revolution I wanted to know more.” “They are from us, and listen to us.”

Shaban Hamada, 31, from Atfiha used to sell chickens. “State security took my brother and tortured him for 13 days, breaking his hands and arms, to the point I had to help him do everything including wiping his ass.” “If the military doesn’t return Morsy to his rightful place we will set this country on fire, and if they come here they won’t have to kill just one, they will have to kill us all.” “I studied religion at Al-Azhar University. But the system is so corrupt and anti-religious that they continue to prevent me from taking my final exam so I can graduate.”