Rabaa: The Aftermath

It is quiet as I make my way to Rabaa, making sure I do not trip over the rubble. There is a stench in the air that comes after a mass burning. Once my eyes adjust to the brightness around me I realize almost everything here has been burnt. Trees are stripped bare, the trunks blackened. The pavement, the ground, nearby buildings and fountains are all blackened with the embrace of a recent fire.

Among the rubble is a torn poster of Morsi. Protesters had been camping out in this residential area for six weeks.

The police and army are parked in the area. Cans and tins were among things I spotted in the rubble.

The devastation doesn’t end. There are electrical wires, clothes, trees and planks of wood on this pavement. Cars nearby were also either damaged or completely destroyed when protesters set fire to them.

The petrol station in the back, Mobil, was also torched.

Scores of people are here to sieve through the rubble, picking up anything they can either use or sell.

Children and men posed with the Egyptian army in front of the Rabaa mosque, also the name of the area.

Foreign journalists were among those on the street.

This car was probably one of those torched yesterday. It’s completely destroyed.

The Rabaa mosque was also torched.

The view of the Rabaa mosque from the street. The metal construction on the floor is what used to make the stage.

 

Everything inside is blackened from the fire. The courtyard leading to the mosque is filled with rubble.

Devastating scene of the mosque and its courtyard.

Even the metal gates surrounding the mosque are charred from the fire, along with the trees.

Ashes and rubble in the courtyard.

The pavement has been taken apart here, the paving stones used as either shelter or rocks to throw at the police.

A bulldozer to clean up the rubble. There were many citizens walking around, taking photos with their mobile phones. Some were having political debates with one another. The atmosphere was tense and sad, some women upset at what had happened here. “How can you kill innocent people, the force used here was both wrong and brutal. They were killing their own Muslim brothers, their own Egyptians,” they argued.

There were also men and women who were happy that the sit-in had been dispersed. “This was a residential area, we couldn’t leave our homes because of the sit-in, because of the men in our apartment buildings and gardens. We were routinely checked every time we wanted to leave and enter our house,” exploded one man. Another man climbed the mosque’s gate and kissed general Sissi’s poster. Men watching broke out in cheers.

This building was the Rabaa mosque’s events hall. People here were sifting through the rubble, garbage men looking for recyclables.

This man was expressing his views to a presenter, the microphone’s labeled as the ‘Tahrir’ channel. The man, holding a Qur’an, said “I am a Muslim, I live here and what I saw this past month is not Islam. They were in a residential area, camping below our buildings, searching my wife and other women who live in the building every time we wanted to enter. What is more humiliating? They would sleep outside our apartment and knock on the door to use the toilet. We were terrified. We were not living. That is why I am glad the sit-in has been removed.”

 

More foreign journalists reporting in front of the mosque.

Military police line up inside the mosque.

An ONTV reporter, an Egyptian satellite channel. People were quite happy to express their feelings. Some were talking out loud to themselves, clearly suffering from shock.

These women were also among those collecting anything useful to recycle to make money.

More devastation inside the mosque’s courtyard.

It looks like protesters used to camp here in the Rabaa mosque’s courtyard. The flames did not reach here.

Clothes and bags were on the ground here. The pavement was also taken apart.

What was once a lawn on the right has been reduced to rubble and soil.

Trees were used to feed fires, although the Prophet had laid down rules that trees should never be destroyed in a battle or war.

It’s a sad day in Egypt for both sides of the political conflict. But there are many, especially in the residential area of Rabaa, that are relieved that they are no longer surrounded by a sit-in, although they seem deeply saddened that it had to come to this. That Egypt had to be reduced to this.

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Photo Essay on Egypt: Tears of Gas

This is what I woke up to this morning. Bellowing black smoke coming from Rabaa where Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been camping for the past month. Below protesters were burning tires, planks of wood and trees. We couldn’t see the amount of smoke and tear gas but then it cleared up to reveal this.

A small group of Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi supporters stood on the side of the road chanting ‘Down with the military rule’ and ‘God is Great’.

And then it came. My first experience with tear gas. It looked like a comet going through the pitch-black sky. Like a missile. But a few moments after it hit the ground my body reacted to it the way it was designed to.

First, it stings the eyes and one can’t help but involuntary shed a few tears. Then feels as though one’s face is on fire, especially under the eyes. I felt like acid was thrown down my throat. Everyone runs away from the canister when it’s thrown and while I tried to take photographs, I was quite often forced to retreat inside from the power of the gas.

Many protesters came prepared, wearing gas masks I’ve only ever seen in history museums in London. They’re used in modern-day life here.

Those who are not prepared have to go through the stinging pain that attacks one’s senses.

Military helicopters hovered overhead, the black smoke increasing. I used to sing ‘London’s burning’ when I was a child. I never knew that one day my second home would be burning.

A young man was trying to prevent the others from marching towards the police barricade. “You’ll die, don’t go!” he shouted passionately while the man in red responded “I don’t care! I want to die!”

Protesters started gathering garbage bins and metal barriers from construction buildings to make a wall between them and the riot police firing the tear gas.

Men run when the tear gas hits the ground. We had to deal with the tear gas on a frequent basis, around every five-ten minutes.

Then the riot police advance, making ground.

The protesters take material from a building nearby that is under construction to create makeshift barriers.

Cameramen filming the events below. It’s aimed right at me because the clashes are this close.

Two helicopters circled the sky that hasn’t ceased to be black from all the smoke.

Protesters set fire to tires.

Although a minority, women are among the protesters angered at the breakup of the sit-in in Rabaa.

A protester took hold of the tear gas and threw it back at the police.

Chaos ensues on the street that leads to Rabaa.

The riot police are in the background while smoke obscures their view.

More protesters gather in front of the police.

The riot police with their van look towards the protesters, firing tear gas every few minutes.

My eyes do not dry from the continuous use of tear gas.

They enter the street with cheers because they’ve stolen an army vehicle. They empty it of its contents and set it on fire.

A fire truck was also among the vehicles taken.

The bullet holes in the windscreen sent shivers down my spine.

Running from the fired tear gas.

Protesters trying to put out a tear gas canister. Many have Pepsi or Coke to wash their faces from the effect of the gas.

The men throw rocks at the riot police. The street is strewn with rocks and equipment from construction sites. And on the left-hand side, the face of Morsi watches on a billboard.

Even the police and plain-clothed men with them start throwing rocks.

The vision gets a little hazy while smoke drifts our way. Men are still throwing stones and rocks at the police, while the latter do the same.

Smoke continues to come out from Rabaa. I later learn that the smoke is coming from vehicles people set on fire.

 

Men use a wooden construction to hide behind while police continue to fire tear gas.

 

A protester looking quite dejected.

There were some plain clothed men with the police throwing rocks.

Protesters carrying an injured man to safety.

Every now and then men would call ‘Yalla’ to the other men to move toward the police.

This young girl was among the protesters. Tear gas was still being thrown below us.

Chaos continues and it’s only 9:40 AM.

Photojournalists were at the scene.

More tear gas. Protesters throwing water on the canister.

A young man held a container that sporadically burst out with fireworks to scare the police.

Throwing rocks alongside the police.

A policeman shooting at someone with what appears to be a rifle. I’m not sure if this is live ammunition or birdshot.

He also shot on protesters on the other side of the road, while those with him threw rocks.

A man on the side of the police started to approach the protesters with a peace sign, so the protesters approached him by putting their hands up.

The man with the helmet braved the police and with arms stretched out approached them and the man who had initially tried to make peace between the two camps.

In the middle of the chaos and rock throwing, they hug. As though showing that both sides can love each other, I’m not sure.

And so that man with the helmet leads the men to force the police to back a few meters behind. With their hands held high in a peaceful gesture, the police retreat slowly without firing anything at them. But they only retreat a few meters behind.

Too close for comfort, the police fire tear gas, dispersing the crowd and pushing them back again.

We could also hear what sounded like gunshots. These men started running for their lives.

I always associated these scenes with Iraq or Palestine. Never Egypt. Never Tayaran Street in Nasr City.

It gets worse when police keep firing tear gas and gunshots.

It momentarily turns dark from all the smoke and tears gas. I can’t breathe from the smell. My head is throbbing.

This injured man is carried away on a motorcycle. His shirt is bloody and so is his hand. He is holding his temple. Even his mobile phone is bloody.

This man was also shot at by police.

Ambulances try to go through every few minutes. Men are injured inside. I see another man injured by shots and carried away.

They continue to throw rocks, angered at the shots fired and the injuries.

A foreign journalist making notes, phone calls and in another picture trying to breathe through the tear gas thrown on the street. She’s waiting for her photographer who joined her after taking a few photographs. They left quickly.

The protesters regroup and try advancing on the police again. It’s a continuous game of cat and mouse.

The protesters set fire to the army vehicle.

The protesters gathered in more numbers. They haven’t stopped banging rocks on metal poles, barricades, and the street lights to make more noise to intimidate the police.

The policeman on the right is shooting at someone high up.

Police fired tear gas directly at the barriers protesters were hiding behind, causing the barriers to fall over. One man is running away from the falling canister.

A military helicopter hovers overhead, assessing the scenes below.

Gunshots fired from this policeman towards Mohamed Fahmy street where protesters are.

The police retreat while one continues shooting. A billboard has been uprooted from its place by protesters, written on it ‘Leave Sissi’.

Then all hell breaks loose at the 4 pm local time. I have run for cover because of the sheer amount of live ammunition being fired towards us. When I look up I see it’s coming from this police truck, a sniper on top. In the background, two men are laying on the floor lifeless. I assumed they were just ducking to show the police not to harm them.

Two of these vans charged towards protesters on both sides of the road, shooting.

On the pavement, I noticed the two men had not moved, even after the vans had retreated. Then I zoomed in and saw the pool of blood forming on the floor below one of the man"s face.

The protesters set fire to a car.

The man lying on the floor has been clearly shot on the forehead. A pool of blood has formed on the floor. These men become so angry at the deaths, they scream at the police on the other side. From as far as I can tell these deceased men were not armed. We did see one person armed earlier on, with a handgun, and even got upset that we were taking photographs, but he was not among those shot.

It all ended as the sunset prayers were being called from mosques with imam’s crying through the microphone as they prayed. The police shot several times at protesters until all we could hear were the deafening sounds of the gunfire. There were no more protesters after that. The street became eerily quiet. Bulldozers later came to clean up the paving stones protesters had built and all the other barriers, rocks and stones. Helicopters still hover above. The police are sitting on the pavement. Shots are fired every now and then. And we are all wondering what’s next for Egypt and its Egyptians, wondering how much more will die for their version of the Egyptian dream.

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Curfew in Cairo: Before & After

Cairo and many parts of Egypt have been under curfew since Wednesday. With curfew hours starting at 7 pm and ending at 6 am, it feels as though I’ve been transported to London where shops close early and silence fills the night air; quite unusual for a busy city.

An hour before curfew I visit Rabaa. Traffic was sprawling through the area, the police and army have allowed cars to pass through. A green tent has covered the mosque, presumably while renovations are carried out.

A man stands in front of a destroyed flower shop. I used to buy flowers here. Behind the flower shop are the Rabaa apartment buildings; the sit-in was right below these apartments and stretched out across the road. It was here that there was a strong stench of excrement and urine.

Scaffolds are being erected against the Rabaa hospital. We asked the doorman — captured in the distance — if he had been present during the clashes. He nodded wearily at us. When we asked if he saw who torched the buildings he replied, it was the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.

This a poster was found at multiple locations around the street. It translates to: “Martyrdom Project”, visually preparing supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi to die for their cause.

The residential buildings in the background are opposite the Rabaa mosque. Being at the site of the sit-in, these residents have expressed that they experienced the most stress. But this is not only a residential area, these buildings contain many doctors’ clinics, offices, and a private tuition center. A friend, a doctor who owns a clinic in one of the buildings, hasn’t been able to make a living since the sit-in closed off the area.

Many people driving by would momentarily park in front of the burnt buildings and take photographs on their mobile phones. They looked bewildered, saddened and upset by the sight. One bearded man with his veiled (niqab) wife also taking photographs told us to curse the people who had ruined the whole area. Strangers spoke to each other on the street, a silent sadness written all over their faces.

Life before the curfew was busy. The roundabout in the middle was always filled with cars trying to get to their destinations until the wee hours of the morning.

Shooting the same roundabout during the curfew has rendered it into a quiet, ghost-like street. There are, however, a few curfew breakers, as the white light shows a car passing after hours.

Being locked in at home forces one to look upwards to the sky, especially during clear nights like this. I had a go at photographing this star using a tripod, but for some reason, it came out looking like an icy ring of fire. How fitting, I thought to myself, it’s as though nature is reflecting exactly what is going on down below and shedding a silent tear.

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Protests in Cairo: a Daily Occurrence

It has been a week of loud celebrations, thunderous displays of solidarity from military jet planes soaring overhead, and more recently, the angry chants of pro-Morsi protesters not only demanding his return to power but to bring justice to the 51 killed on Monday.

Egyptians are tense. And afraid. The recent split in society is the relatively new territory. Families are divided in their differences of political opinions– a father will make his way to anti-Morsi protests in Tahrir Square while his son will make his way to pro-Morsi protests in Rabaa. It’s now normal to overhear political conversations on the streets, in supermarkets, and in waiting rooms. From being active viewers of the tens of talk shows discussing and dissecting political events, people want to take their turn at talking– and they’ll gladly talk to anyone. From being a politically repressed society for so long, Egyptians are talking politics at every opportunity because of the turmoil the country scene since the 2011 revolution.

This afternoon saw pro-Morsi supporters walk away from the Rabaa intersection where they have been staging their sit-in and demonstrations since before 30 June. The men on the front line held honorary coffins symbolizing those who had been killed in Monday’s deadly clashes between Morsi supporters and the army. Each coffin is labeled with the name of the deceased, with the Egyptian flag resting above the coffin.

While accounts are shady on how the deadly clashes started, or by whom, at the end of the day 51 human lives were taken. In the battle to demonize each side, some are missing that point – that life is sacred, no matter whose side an unarmed person is on. Seeing these coffins pass the street brought a somber mood to bystanders.

Following the coffins, men held their funeral attires in a dramatic display to show they weren’t afraid of dying. These protesters want the sympathy of a public that is glad to see the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi go.

Women and children were also part of today’s protests. These women adamantly believe the president they elected should be returned to power. They chanted, “We are staying for 3 more years!”

Streets across Cairo have had their walls, signposts, and billboards defaced with anti-military graffiti. These pro-Morsi protesters write “Hasbi-Allahu wa Ni’ma Al-Wakil” in Arabic, which translates to Allah is Sufficient for Me, and He is the Best Trustee. Mentioned in the Qur’an, Egyptians like to use this expression when they are in difficulty or under a threat, to seek Divine help and support.

It’s still unclear how things will turn out for Egypt. But for these Morsi supporters, it looks like they’re staying, much to the dismay of residents around the Rabaa intersection.

“I haven’t left my house in 10 days because we’re frightened and it’s impossible to,” complained one elderly woman at a local supermarket as she rushed to stock up on food for the start of the holy month of fasting for Muslims.

“Today is the first day my husband and I left the house because of dwindling food supplies,” she told a group of Egyptians waiting for their turn at the butchers. “No supermarket will dare deliver in our area. They have literally trapped us in our own homes and we are afraid,” she added before using the very same words the pro-Morsi supporters had spray-painted earlier on the walls: “Hasbi Allahu wa ni’ma al-wakil.”

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How Egyptians Celebrate

The mood at the Presidential Palace before the military announcement was festive. Vendors sold tea and even rented out plastic chairs to those who wanted to protest whilst sitting. Those who didn’t want to sit on chairs sat on the sidewalk whilst waving the Egyptian flag. People sipped tea that was sold every few yards while behind them loomed the Presidential Palace where young people pointed their green lasers. Every sort of Egyptian was present; Christians, Muslims, women who wore the hijab, women who wore the niqab — they didn’t necessarily support the president because they practiced these religious symbols — they were at the Presidential Palace demanding his ouster.

During the announcement, the crowds hushed, and then it started. An explosion of cheers, cries, and chants. Although many are skeptical over the military’s position over what Egyptians are calling the second revolution, Egyptians don’t really care about these opinions. Right now they are celebrating 1) the fact that they faced their fears and defied intimidation tactics, especially after 30+ years of submission, 2) in turn millions turned out to protest against the regime 3) which led to the will of the people changing politics in Egypt yet again.

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At the Presidential Palace Protests in Cairo

My journey to the protests in front of the Presidential Palace is a long one, much like the journey Egyptians have endured since the revolution. The closer we get to our destination, the more people park their cars anywhere they can and start to walk, the more shops have chosen to close early. Streets away from the palace, throngs of people are walking on the road or pavements, waving the Egyptian flag. People look happy to be out protesting and anxious to reach the main street.

It is on the main street in Heliopolis where the protests are held that the mood turns festive. People chant in large groups across the long street. Opportunistic entrepreneurs try attracting people with their triple-high priced products; flags, tea, cold drinks, face painting, t-shirts; the list goes on. I haven’t taken my digital camera with me, in an effort to be street-wise. But I needn’t have worried. Families with their children make up the majority of the population on this Monday night.

I even found these two elderly women sleeping deeply in the midst of loud chanting, with their cute little puppy. They look exhausted. This is what Egyptian politics have done to them, I pointed out to my family.

Every person on the street has something to say, either by chanting out loud against the Ikhwanisation of their country or by holding up signs demanding that the president leave. People here come from all walks of life, including Muslims wearing the hijab and men with beards. No one is against Islam here, my friend tells me. They are against the Muslim Brotherhood and their monopoly on the country.

Although it was 9 in the evening, people were still arriving, pushing their way through. For the first time I’ve been in Egypt, young men who accidentally shove me apologize, holding up their hands, with an I wasn’t trying to harass you there, I promise! look on their faces.

Many elderly citizens came out to protest, including this lady in a wheelchair. She wore a badge that also demands the president to step down.

Fireworks continuously lit up the sky along with green lasers, expressing the hope people here have for a better Egypt. It all felt very much like the atmosphere of the 11th of February 2011 when the then president stepped down, but this time people were out to change their situation, not celebrate after the fact.

With people up until the night of the 30th of June not sure how the numbers would turn out, people looked proud and happy that so many came out to protest. It felt like I was at a festival, or a carnival-like Notting Hill in London sans the colorful dancers.

The barricade around the palace is filled with graffiti. Freedom of expression is something very new in Egypt and Egyptians are quite creative in finding outlets to express their feelings. Drums, plastic trumpets, and whistles were all part of the sounds of the protest outside the Presidential Palace.

Perhaps there are those who think Egyptians are celebrating prematurely, but I would like to believe that they are celebrating the sheer numbers that have turned out on the streets across Egypt; and the fact that fear is no longer an issue paralyzing them into submission in their homes. Tonight thousands of people held their head high and their flags higher, knowing there was no longer that one thing they feared: fear itself.

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Protests Return to Cairo’s Nasr City District

Two and a half years ago the chants of protesters on a particular Friday in January enticed Egyptians to look out of their windows and step out onto their cold balconies. With ten days to go to what may be a second popular uprising on 30 June, the same scenes returned to the streets of Nasr City this Friday afternoon. But while two years ago protesters were chanting against the then president Hosni Mubarak, these protesters were pledging their allegiance to the current president Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt has since then been buzzing about today’s intimidation tactic to scare off those who want to join the 30 June anti-government protests next week; a strategy deliberately made ten days before next week’s planned protests to warn the scattered opposition that they are a united force and “have God on their side”.

Because the demonstration was held on the main road at the site of a mosque in Nasr City, many roads around the area were at a stand-still. Trucks led this protest, shouting out slogans while protesters echoed behind as they made their way to the site of the demonstration.

Pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters held a long Egyptian flag as they marched down the street. Since the elections, many feel that Egypt has been hijacked by a political group that uses Islam to further promote their political ideologies, having little to do with the real religion itself. As many have stated, using religion for political gain is frighteningly dangerous.

Since Muslim Brotherhood supporters were summoned from all over the country to join the demonstration, Nasr City became a parking lot for the day, with tour buses, coaches, and micro-buses parked around the area. Women marched in groups behind the mass of male protesters.

Egyptian satellite channels across NileSat covered the protests. Presenters, political analysts, and commentators picked up on the message that “you’re either with us and Islam or against us and are disbelievers” that was conveyed to the mass crowds from a stage set up for speakers.

Since the elections last year, Egypt has become more and more divided, with those supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists and those who believe Egypt should not be monopolized and ruled by them. Strangers have gone as far as asking each other for their political beliefs before their personal details!

It’s evident that everyone has a different idea of what they want Egypt to be. Like a dress, or the Egyptian flag these protesters were carrying, hands impatiently tug at parts of it in dissatisfaction, demanding it to be the version they want it to be. With so many angry hands, there is the fear that there mightn’t remain a dress to work with.

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From the Horrors of Homs, A Syrian Family’s Passage to Egypt

His fingers tremble slightly as he hastily stubs out his fifth cigarette of the morning, his free hand rolling down the sleeves of the navy-blue jumper he had hurriedly donned on a few days earlier in Syria. Spring is still a distant dream as my family and I huddle inside my grandmother’s cold living room, the scent of post-breakfast Turkish coffee battling to strangle the stench of tobacco that clings to almost everything.

My grandmother watches the husband of her first cousin’s daughter carefully — his physical appearance showing the exhaustion that came with arriving in Egypt a few hours earlier — as silence drapes over the room like a heavy curtain before the showing of a play. She remembers last seeing her female cousin when she was a child in Syria leaving for Egypt, her cousin’s family choosing to stay behind. Never did they imagine she would be joining them in Egypt eight decades later, forcibly leaving Syria on her crutches, accompanied by her middle-aged daughter and husband Majed, with two children in tow. “We won’t leave Syria until we are forced to,” she would tell them. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” It wasn’t long after that they had to flee.

With the only startling noises drifting into the living room coming from perfectly harmless car honking and wheels screeching to a halt, Majed recalls how different life in Cairo is to live in Homs. Their home, only a mere few hundred meters from Baba Amr, meant the only sounds the family heard were the bombs that were dropped, continuous gunshots fired too close for comfort, chaotic shouting from men, and high-pitched wails from frightened women and children.

Majed’s tired Syrian dialect fills the room like a sad birdsong as he recalls being trapped in his own home for weeks at a time, not able to restock his dwindling supply of food and water. “And then it got worse,” he says, shaking his head at the memory whilst taking a sip of his coffee. “I received news that my entire office building had been taken over by the army”. In a prime location in Homs, the Syrian army had forcibly turned his building into their headquarters. “They barged in and shot my security guard, his wife, and two young children,” he angrily tells us, his voice quavering. “This is when I knew we had to leave; it was only going to get worse.”

Not only did Majed and his family have to endure the terrifying street battles, the air strikes, the shortage of water and food, the freezing winter with little electricity to keep them warm; they also had to deal with daily interrogations from soldiers searching for resistance fighters taking refuge in civilian homes. They’d bang on the door at all hours, tipping the house upside down, taking the family’s weapons and anything else they felt like. “I still have siblings in Homs who couldn’t escape with us,” he smiles sadly. “They don’t have the means to make it to Egypt, so they’ll be attempting to travel to a city in Syria that doesn’t have any fighting. It’s too unbearable to stay in Homs.”

When he came to leave Syria, Majed couldn’t cash out his money from the bank. He felt a growing anger towards “the Arab and Western world for not doing anything concrete to stop the massacre” as he watched young men and children die in the streets, crimson blood staining the once grey roads. His family packed light, with only the cash they had promising to take them to Cairo where their relatives lived. It was a dangerous trip, but Majed knew the right people to help them escape under the cover of darkness. For Majed’s family, Egypt was a distant lighthouse, its lamp shining a beacon of hope, offering them refugee from the horrors of Homs.

Weeks later we find Majed and his nine-year-old son walking around the neighborhood during a cold winter’s evening. Offering them a lift home, Majed shakes his head, “We’ve been cooped up in our house in Homs for months,” he tries to make us understand. “We enjoy taking long walks; it’s freeing; it’s therapeutic.” It’s clear from the sadness in his eyes that there are many memories that Majed can’t bring himself to share with his relatives; memories that he will keep locked away until he can find a way to put them into words.

Although the family has settled in Cairo, their Egyptian-Syrian cousin insisting to pay the expensive rent, they are unsure of what the future holds. A rich businessman, Majed is now counting the money he has left, while their daughter had her final year in middle school cut short. “I’m not sure where I’ll have my exams, but it’s not like I’ve been studying,” she smiles, relieved, like any normal young girl, that she doesn’t have to go to school, but worried that she’ll have to re-take the entire year. Though they put on a brave face, Majed’s wife and children look traumatized, having their private moments to grieve for the homeland they feel they have lost.

Asked whether they’d ever go back to Syria, they look at each other, unsure. “There’s nothing like home,” Majed’s wife tells us. “But if the war ever ends, will there be a home left for us?”

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