A memorial to martyrs of the revolution has been erected in the middle of Tahrir Square. My friend Ehab’s brother, Halim, is memorialized there. Ehab told me this week that he was shot in the head by the Muslim Brotherhood during riots earlier this year in Port Said. To me, who killed him is secondary to the fact that he is no longer with us.
Halim was an extraordinary man. When Mark Krass and I traveled to Port Said to visit Ehab and his family, Halim met us and hosted us in his apartment. His place was small, but he made us so welcome; he truly meant it when he said that his home was ours though we were the first Americans he had ever met. When we learned that night that Ehab could not make it Port Said to see us, Halim took it upon himself to show us around the city and across the Suez Canal. He introduced us to his friends, and bought us ice cream. We played video games, laughed, and shared suhoor that night. I wish I had known more Arabic at the time so I could have understood more of his and Mark’s conversations.
One thing I will always remember about Halim is what he said about Israel. “I don’t like the Israeli government,” he said, “but I am sure that the Israeli people are good and kind.”
People all over this world are so quick to judge one another. They regularly jump to black-and-white conclusions based on limited and oft-twisted information. They frequently use the actions of the few to define the motives of the many. Especially in Egypt, Israelis and Jews are often painted black en masse on account of their leaders’ (read: Bibi’s) actions, whether or not all Israelis and Jews actually support those actions.
Thus, Halim’s words were more than refreshing to me. They gave me hope that open-mindedness can survive in environments where every media outlet exists to further some political patron’s interests, and people are so quick to damn each other and rob one another of their humanity. Halim’s wisdom was profound to me. I wish he had lived longer so as to share that wisdom with more people.
Halim was a good man, and I miss him dearly. I am so sad that he was murdered, and I hope he has found himself into Allah’s gracious arms.