Thank you for the article outlining my encounter with the police and military in Egypt. However, your headline ‘Dylan’s not-so-excellent Cairo adventure’ might mislead readers into thinking my six months in Egypt was only a negative experience.
In fact, I made many close friends and learned a lot. The warmth of my Egyptian brothers is something I already miss after being home only five days.
It was so different to our homophobic society, being able to walk arm in arm down the street (‘engaga’ meaning ‘engagement’), a greeting kiss on the cheek on meeting a male friend.
Even using your mate as a pillow to lean on, hanging out on a street corner. Such a violent place but such open love shown among friends to each other. They’d greet me with ‘Dely! Habebe!’ (My Love!).
Or, ‘I love you Dely! Where is the woman!’ Yet they were tough dudes. Scars to prove it.
One of them, Mohamed, promised to cook me a birthday dinner. I sat alone till late at night waiting in my flat for him.
He finally called to apologise saying his friend had been shot in the head during the protest. He died that day, aged 22.
Unfortunately because it is a strict Muslim society, I did not have much interaction with young women. Just a few. My friend Sumar, whose brothers were very protective of her, had to hide our friendship from them.
I didn’t see one pyramid, the road was blocked by both military and protesters.
I didn’t see one tourist. I stayed in one section of Cairo, a city of 29 million people.
I got to know that area really well. I saw what the real Egypt was really like and I empathised with my friends in their struggle.
None of my friends wanted to stay in Egypt. They all wished they could come back with me to Australia. And I wish they could too. But it doesn’t work that way.
‘Would we face racism?’ they asked me. ‘Not in Byron,’ I told them.
I showed them pictures and they wished even more that they could come with me. They saw themselves as having a poor future. Demonstration after demonstration but nothing changed.
Within 24 hours of being home, I found out that three of my friends here had died. One from a suicide/OD, another in a car accident and yet another from a heart attack.
Dylan Bradbury, Brunswick Heads