Forty days have passed since the detention of the young people who protested the recent hike in metro ticket prices took place. But one of those detainees decided to face the decision on her own, a girl who stood alone in the middle of the subway holding a placard that said: “You Sisi is the one to blame, why raising prices in the month of fasting”.
Asmaa Abdel Hamid is not just a political activist who decided to object to the government’s decision to raise the metro fare. She, despite her young age, had her own revolution; as she revolted against family customs and traditions, which made her work at an early age in one of the ready-made garment factories, where she mingled with women workers, get close to them, and felt their suffering, so she became the one who provides them with support and help.
Asmaa saw her dream of bread, freedom, and social justice fluttering in Al Tahrir Square, so she decided to defend the oppressed and poor people who belong to her and whom she belongs to.
Like millions of Egyptians, Asmaa was negatively affected by the government’s decision, issued on the 13th of last May, to increase metro fares by 250 percent, a matter which threatened her life, as she expressed on her personal Facebook page. She said “I am a girl who decided to be economically independent for many years. I am fully responsible for myself and my life. Sometimes before the increase of the ticket’s price, I couldn’t offer it. Now, after my ride to the university costs me at least 50 LE, how can I afford it?”
Asmaa couldn’t maintain her shock absorption capacity towards such economic measures, which had previously addressed along with the impact they have on women in Egypt. So, she held a series of workshops to discuss the effects of the Egyptian pound’s floating on women’s independence.
The girl also could not bear to see her dream of completing her high studies is collapsing in front of her eyes just because of a decision the Egyptian government took raising the metro fares. So she decided to voice her anger by carrying a banner that said “How many metro tickets can I afford with my salary?”. As a result, she was violently and severely beaten before she was arrested from Al-Sadat metro station moving between cramped rooms crowded with women criminals.
Asmaa had consecutively appeared before the Prosecution pending case No. 718 of 2018, in which she faces charges of; taking part in a terrorist group to undermine the national security, disrupting the constitution and the law, participating in a demonstration to disrupt public transport, and harming the interests of citizens.
In spite of the bitter experience of imprisonment at police stations that lack the minimum levels of humanity, Asmaa’s friends who were able to visit her at Qasr al-Nil police station wrote on their Facebook pages, saying: “Being held in inhuman conditions and severely beaten because of a peaceful objection she raised, Asmaa is giving us hope from behind the walls of darkness.”
“Asmaa is a summary of a harsh and inspiring story of our country’s ones; violence, violation, struggle and work.. A cruel fate that creates a dream of a beautiful life and shows solidarity with all the poor..An authentic understanding of the equality dream.. Asmaa is among the harshest and most beautiful stories of our revolution”, this is how “Bread and Freedom” Party’s leading member Akram Ismail described her.
Akram wrote, in a blog in solidarity with Asmaa: “I think I haven’t met a girl that combines the suffering of our country’s youth with a courageous ability to struggle and learn like Asmaa.. She is really a fighter and her life is full of suffering and challenges since childhood.. A long story of struggle in facing violations at work (which she started at a very young age) and a long and tough journey while managing to have a house to achieve independence.. A sense of humor combined with courage and an ongoing ability to withstand pain and fears.”
He added: “Asmaa is the first one who let me understand how the price increase can ruin any chance for girls to have independence or create a better life for themselves.. How can she go to her place of work in Helwan, study in Ain Shams University, and go to Gisr al-Suez district) if the metro ticket price became 7 LE?! Asmaa is not only an activist who holds a banner that stands with the poor; Asmaa was defending her right to life, as she refuses to let the economic measures ruin her life”.
He further said: “If she hadn’t announced her rejection, she would have been devastated as a result of oppression.. Asmaa is a summary of a harsh and inspiring story of our country’s ones; violence, violation, struggle and work.. A cruel fate that creates a dream of a beautiful life and shows solidarity with all the poor..An authentic understanding of the equality dream.. Asmaa is among the harshest and most beautiful stories of our revolution. Apart from street squares and gas bombs, you can see the story of revolution embodied in the struggle thousands of girls are enduring every day in the neighborhood, the street and metro. You will find Asmaa..My dear colleague Asmaa, you taught me a lot of things and you still are, and I am really embarrassed by your courage. I know you are strong and that you did what you want to, and I know that you are ready to pay its price. I believe you are struggling. I believe you are a hero.”
Ahmed Fawzy, a leading member of the Bread and Freedom party, also spoke about Asmaa on his Facebook page. He said:”We decided to take to the street during presidential elections in 2018. We met some cheerful young people whom I admire their courage and the ability to move on despite oppression and tyranny. They had a strange certainty that they can change the current situation. The most salient of those youth was Asmaa Abdel Hamid who, despite her job and life circumstances, was the first to be there and filled the place with fun and joy. Asmaa decided to exercise the most basic of her rights, which is to reject the increase in metro fares.. Freedom for Asmaa and all other brave girls and boys who are being held behind bars..”
Nashwa Zein, a member of the Bread and Freedom party, said: “History will mock us, as we managed to strip it off of seriousness. Maybe it will disregard us, but it will stop for long in love for Asmaa. Only one name is not sufficient for Asmaa. She passes across us and across time while being incurious about what the last may put on her shoulder, and what might we say about her. She just smiles carrying such tremendous ability to learn, to endure, and to win over her defeats.”