I just got of the phone with Sarah, one of courageous climate organizers in Cairo, and she had the following to say about the situation there (I paraphrased some of this):

Tens of thousands of ordinary people were protesting in Tahrir square on Friday — families with kids, elderly people, lots and lots of students. My mother and I were teargassed while I was taking some photos, and some of my friends were arrested or shot at with rubber bullets and teargas. We were protesting peacefully, but the police reacted violently. Some of the police stations were burned down, and there was some looting, but mostly the atmosphere has been joyful. This was a final showdown between people and police, especially people who saw their family and friends being shot at. Now, people actually have a chance to say things that they haven’t been allowed to say for so many years! And they’re happy to be together.  Read more from Sarah here >>

Over the past couple of years, our friends and colleagues over in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East have been under severe constraints with regard to public events. When they try to organize rallies, even under the theme of “environmental education,” they are rebuffed by police. That said, they are some of the most creative and innovative organizers I know. They sling social media like its their job, lead bike parades fearlessly through the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, and walk through army roadblocks to take a stand when needed. It's this kind of fearlessness and creativity that shows the power of organizing worldwide.


It's this kind of courage that led Sarah to design and organize this amazing piece of art a couple months ago in the desert just outside of Cairo:

I lost touch with my friends in Egypt when the government blocked internet and mobile service, but I’m not worried, because I know how careful and thoughtful these organizers are. Of course things could go wrong, but I’d like to think that the youth climate organizers I know in Egypt are savvy and smart enough to take a stand for freedom and at the same time, keep themselves and their fellow activists safe.

When I think about the massive mobilizations that are taking place in Egypt, I don’t think about millions we’re all staring at in awe on the Al Jazeera livestream. I think about the incredible individuals I’ve met and worked with side-by-side over the past few years — Sarah, Hazem, Onur and many others — and wish them safety and freedom.

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