I tried hard to evade a commitment that I consider a national duty towards the armed forces’ victims who have lost parts of their bodies or will remain physically disabled for the rest of their lives. I felt that all words of sympathy and gratitude will not be a valuable reward for their sacrifices to the homeland.
On my way to visit them, I was training myself on embellished words, trying to get them out of my mouth properly. I wanted to say sentences like “you are the honour of the nation,” “we are all proud of you,” or “your sacrifices blessed Egypt with security.”
As I entered, I found a crowd of journalists, intellectuals, and artists who had received an invitation just as I had received one. I decided to hide among them to avoid any scene; however, it seemed that my decision was a decision many of them had taken as well.
As soon as we entered the first room, we found men welcoming us with smiles on their faces, and their greetings eased all our fears—then we felt that we are the disabled ones, not them. They told us that what happened to their bodies is not enough sacrifice for the homeland.
They wished that they could return undaunted by any injury to fight terrorism until they become martyrs for the sake of the homeland’s security and stability.
Their spirit encouraged me to approach and talk to them. There, I found them telling the greatest stories of their colleagues’ sacrifices and the reasons behind their injuries. I have not heard similar tales since the stories of the Egyptian military heroes who have lived through the days of the War of Attrition and Naksa until the greatest victory in October. Their tales can be inspiring to authors of novels, as well as to TV and cinematic scriptwriters.
Ahmed Kamel, is a soldier from Luxor, law school graduate. Ahmed was sweeping with his comrades a suspicious area when they found an explosive mine. He managed to disarm it; however, his companions did not notice another small bomb, which exploded and heavily injured him—something which might hinder his return to the service. After that, he told me his story, and I said thank God for everything. He replied that he thanks God for finding the large mine or his colleagues would have been dead now.
Lieutenant Ahmed Mohammed from Assiut was injured in the explosion during the Karam Al Qawadis attack. He started recounting his story, saying that he witnessed many explosions, one of which flung him up in the air, dropping without a single scratch—while in one of the explosions he was the only survivor. During the day he got injured, his unit killed four gunmen, but then—while combing the place—a barrel of bombs exploded under the armoured vehicle and his resulting injury led to the amputation of one of his organs.
There are dozens of similar stories that could be listed here—but the spirit that they welcomed us with revealed the depth of their faith in their duty towards their country—undaunted by whatever they might lose. No matter what injuries they are suffering, it will never be equivalent to the nobility of their mission—the protection of their homeland.
While we were talking to some friends of the heroes about the challenges of facing terrorism, and we agreed that terrorism is in disguise, wearing the mask of good sheikhs who hide aggressive thoughts of which they claim are Islam and the orders of God and his prophet.
We said that these pretenders rely on religion to influence our minds and the culture of our people who in fact only know very little about Islam and its teachings. As a result, ideologies of takfir will continue to emerge unless they are stopped.
Ideologies must be challenged with ideologies, and the causes of violence must be studied. The state must use brain before brawl to face whatever threatens its security and takes over the minds of its people. We must resort to our moderate sheikhs who are accepted by the youth and society to explain to the people that violence is not part of any religion, and certainly not part of Islam—in fact, all religions call for peace and love.
We have talked about the importance of renewing the Islamic and Christian religious discourse through scholars who sport reason and logic, so we do not fall into the whirlwind of pointless arguments that end in the failure of attempts of renewal and modernisation.
Egypt needs a regime that seriously thinks about improving the importance of community dialogue—a regime that gives scholars and scientists all the tools necessary for innovation to help everyone abandon their violent mentalities and adopt peaceful dialogue as an alternative.
When we were leaving, we looked in shame at the building which had become the temporary home for heroes who lost their limbs and had to retire at an age too young—without care or second thoughts about what they gave for their homeland. I wish those responsible for ruling our country would review their strategy to combat terrorism and examine the real reasons behind it so we may stop the bloodshed.