Brown University: Here I am Crying Far and Loud: A Night of Iranian Literature,

Mehrangiz Kar read the short piece below at a Brown University Event in December 2011:
Here I am Crying Far and Loud: A Night of Iranian Literature
The Literary Arts Program presents “Here I am Crying Far and Loud: A Night of Iranian Literature,” featuring bilingual readings by three Iranian writers, including Pegah Ahmadi, recipient of the University’s 2011-12 International Writers Project Fellowship; novelist Shahriar Mandanipour, former IWP Fellow and current visiting professor of literary arts; and Mehrangiz Kar, Iranian human rights lawyer, journalist, and visiting professor in gender and sexuality studies. This event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the McCormack Family Theater, 70 Brown St.
Closed Circle

Mehrangiz Kar
Written on July 29th, 2011
I pull back the thick curtains of my hotel room. The sunshine of Cairo fills in the room. The constant sound of car honking their through the heavy traffic breaks the silence. I face a painting of Cairo; it is just like Tehran. Everything is chaotic. Yet in this chaos an underlying discipline reigns; a sort of discipline that you would not recognize unless you are from the Middle East North Africa region.
The city entertains my eyes from the 21st floor of the hotel. It is now about seven months that Egyptians have kicked out Hussni Mubarak. At last, Tahrir Square is now calm. My hotel is in close proximity to Tahrir. Traffic is insane here. The people are busy welcoming the month of Ramadan; a month that Egyptians eagerly embrace. They each carry a bag and wander around the Square. For hours I was sleeping mindlessly nearby Tahrir Square. I still feel jetlagged from the long flight that brought me from Boston to Cairo. Putting on a proper outfit, I set out for the streets. For tomorrow, the last Friday before Ramadan, the Islamists have issued an invitation asking the people to gather in Tahrir Square.
This is the first time that Islamists have taken the initiative in and around Tahrir. They have chosen this particular occasion to trigger people’s religious sentiments in assuming leadership. Various parties and un-Islamic political groups, secular and national groups have positively responded to this invitation. Ordinary people are not content with this news.
The only source of income of Cairo, tourism, has notably slowed down in this political turmoil. Tourists naturally run away from unsafe and politically volatile settings. It is as though business has gone into a deep sleep in this city. People are frustrated. Traffic adds to this frustration. They remain in traffic of Tahrir for hours. Shop owners are furious, so are the people. They all want these protests to stop so that their business could prosper once again. Most of them clearly think and say, “We wanted to kick out Mubarak which we did. The rest is uncalled for. Those who refuse to leave Tahrir are harming our businesses and economy.”
Hotel rooms are mostly empty around here nowadays. A notably small group of travelers, who are mostly scholars, researchers and reports, commute around the city and observe the general atmosphere. The leftover of tourist, the scholars and reporters, naturally are not the wealthiest tourists thereby not helping the bankrupt economy of Cairo with their presence. The faces of hotel staff members are gloomy. Most of them were fired and the lucky ones who are desperately holding on to their jobs do not enjoy the tips of Western tourists any longer.
The promised Friday finally arrives. For the first time Islamic slogans begin to flow under the skin of this city, eating away the more liberal and patriotic slogans. My experience from the Islamic Revolution in Iran tells me that the political future of Egypt will be determined right here and on this very Friday. The memories of the Iranian Islamic Revolution take over me like the ruins of a destroyed house that burry me underneath bricks and fallen walls. All those lives that were ruined in the name of Islam and the Islamic Revolution in Iran begin to march before my eyes.
A question that has no answer rings in my head: Why do human societies walk in circles and repeat bitter historic experiences all over again? It is as though overthrown dictators multiply in the same street protests that were formed against their reign. New leaders destroy old prisons and build new ones. New hanging poles, modern torture techniques, freedom fighter torturers and thick-necked thieves replace the old tortures and thieves. They have a “revolutionary” brand; a brand that the world seems to romanticize and praise. This revolutionary brand legitimizes crimes, betrayal and violence in the name of justice. And, international audiences eagerly watch the news on their TV and computer screens in awe.
By the time the world realizes its contemporary mistakes, yet another young generation comes about and tries to undo these mistakes while making similar ones. And, this cycle goes on generation after generation. This closed circle never seems to end. I believe it also has nothing to do with Islam. Human beings take pride in destroying parts of this circle and building it in similarly flawed ways. Human societies do not seem to have yet gone beyond this circle. Will we ever, I wonder?
Iran is also pregnant with a political outbreak; another revolution. Perhaps we, the victims of the Islamic Revolution, and our children who grew up in despair and political turmoil would reproduce this injustice in another revolution. I hope not!
I fasten my seatbelt on the plain. Looking at Cairo from above, I could tell that the city is still not woken. Perhaps it is now dreaming of justice and prosperity in its sleep. Today, the Sufis are to conquer Tahrir Square.
I close my eyes and wish that my destination could have been Iran, instead of my home in exile in the United States. Upon return to Iran, I could at least go visit the graves of my loved ones. I wonder: Would I get a chance to visit the cemetery before getting eaten away by revolutionary vultures? I wonder!

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