Sarah Hegazy .. The Butterfly that Approached the Fire and left an Indelible Mark
“Suicide is not courage, as some say, and it is not cowardice, as others say. It is just a lack of endurance, a weak heart, a soul full of grief, a weak exhausted body, and a mind that does not stop thinking.”
Part of an old short blog post by Sarah Hegazy, “Haya Bena Nahari,” published in August 2017.
It is strange how the paths of our lives intersect at fixed points despite our many differences, only when we agree on one idea, which is “freedom.”
Sometimes I wonder in fear, what other path am I taking that intersects with whom and at what points?
Until now, the path of my life has intersected with many friends and girlfriends, whether those I know in real life, or those we shared a dream and defeat with, and we shared them like a wretched dry loaf of bread thrown to a person hungry for freedom and groaning in pain in their cell alone.
Sarah Hegazy was one of them. I have never met her. But we have shared in the virtual world, words and private conversations many times, and shared as well systematic cyber attacks. And the constant tampering of those with extremist ideas because they do not understand everything that is different.
Sarah and I wrote for the same websites at times. Including the “Yanair News Gate” website, which was blocked before it was finally removed from the Internet.
And we worked on some articles that revolve around the orbit of freedoms. During her detention, she wrote several articles supporting various sexual freedoms. She respects the individual’s personal choice of sexual orientation.
I respected her intense culture and envied her intelligent mind, and watched her generous spirit fight bloody, ugly wars in a white robe with hands raised high. They carry nothing but a pen or a piece of colorful cloth. A piece of cloth that says “difference is beautiful”. The different shades of color in society make it more distinctive.
A piece of cloth called “The Rainbow Flag” was the beginning of the end for Sarah, but in the long run, her story will make a difference.
Sarah, whom I always feared for because of her soft and open heart, today I write about her in the past tense, knowing that I won’t be able to ask her opinion about my writing, which I valued.
But I know that her story, despite its shortness, is rich and deserves to be written and preserved.
Icarus .. Did he have to fly that high?
The Greek myth of “Icarus” says that his father warned him not to approach the sun so as not to fall to the ground.
They were trying to escape a harsh sentence. Together, they made wings of wax to fly away from their prison. However, when Icarus saw the light of the sun, he could not help but fly towards it. So his wings melted and he fell dead for its light and comfort.
Sarah Hegazy did the same, and flew with two wings of love towards freedom seeking its light, and the flames of ignorance, skepticism, and fear of everything new and extremist patterns and concepts got to her.
At dawn on May 14, 2020, Sarah killed herself by hanging herself in the bathroom of her apartment in Canada. It was the second attempt to get rid of her suffering. In 2017, she tried to take her life and failed.
Sarah left behind thousands of important words, whether on her personal blog or in her published articles, which indicate a brilliant mindset, a broad heart, and culture and knowledge at a high level.
But the conclusion of her words was a letter written in her hand and signed in which she wrote:
“To my siblings.. I tried to survive and failed.. forgive me. To my friends.. the experience is harsh and I am too weak to fight it.. forgive me, to the world, you have been harsh to a great extent.. but I forgive.”
Exile .. To leave your heart and soul to save your body
“The future was not about memories of defeat and wrinkles” .. from the lyrics of a song by Mashrou’ Leila called “Icarus”.
This article is about you, Sarah. I remembered you when I was asked while I was blindfolded and handcuffed with narrow iron handcuffs that cut a wound in my skin whenever I tried to move my palms, forgetting several times that I was handcuffed. And I’m trying to answer a provocative question because I thought it was too obvious!
He was asking with real curiosity and anger: “Why didn’t I go abroad, after I received a summons and security personnel to my house, why didn’t I flee?” You were always on my mind whenever someone talked about immigration. And you still are.
How can we be asked to leave and they still think we are safe from death? Does a person hang out in front of a hungry lion and think he is safe?
Do we run towards the lion just to escape from a herd of hyenas?
Is it better to be killed by a lion than to be torn apart by hyenas?
In March 2017, Sarah traveled to Canada, seeking immigration. After attempts to receive psychological treatment in Egypt for a short period. She flew straight to Canada for a second attempt at survival.
She did not choose exile, but she was forced into it. As for her first choice, it was her adherence to her freedom and her belief that peace might create peace in the crowd of death. And that the singing may be louder than the sound of bullets.
As for prison, it is the second option for those who cling to their homeland and their opinion. Sarah was arrested on October 1, 2017, from her home. She was brought before the State Security Prosecution, after spending one night at the National Security headquarters.
The Public Prosecutor charged her with “joining a group that was established contrary to the provisions of the law and the constitution, with the aim of harming social peace.” And promoting the ideas of this group through public means, and inciting dereliction and immorality in society.
She was held for one day in the Sayeda Zainab section, then transferred to Al-Qanater prison for women, where she spent almost half of the time in group wards, and half of it between solitary confinement and isolation.
Three months is the time Sarah spent in prison. But these days, which did not exceed 100, were able to end her life, one way or another.
“Any person different from the following: male, Muslim, Sunni, heterosexual, supportive of the regime, rich, is among the persecuted and outcasts.”
From the words of Sarah Hegazy in a symposium entitled “What is next in the Sudanese revolution”?
In an article published by Mada Masr on September 24, 2018, Sarah talks about her experience of being arrested. She mentioned some types of torture, whether psychological or physical, that she went through during the trial
From the moment she was kidnapped from her home in front of her family until the last scene, when she was released.
Covering the eyes, handcuffing to the chair, electric torture, insults and threats of sexual acts, questions about personal life and sexual orientation, and ending with long-term solitary confinement, which is a form of torture according to human rights and international definitions.
On my first night in my solitary cell in Al-Qanater Women’s Prison, I was hungry, feeling extreme thirst and pain all over my body from the severe January cold, and continuous bleeding while I was almost naked.
And when I got tired, my mind started recounting many stories and memories. You were one of them, Sarah.
And I wondered: “In which one of those three was she killed? Since I learned the news of your departure, I have been thinking that the time has come for death to gather the small beating vow that remains of you, after you lost a large part of your life in prison, especially in solitary confinement?
Sarah, have we crossed paths in that same narrow space again?
Mashrou’ Leila concert
On September 22, 2017, Sarah attended a concert by Mashrou’ Leila. It is a Lebanese rock band. The lyrics of some of the band’s songs sparked controversy because they raised political issues and issues related to sexual orientation.
During the concert, Sarah and some of her friends raised the rainbow flag, or the “pride flag,” in support of Hamid Sinno, the founder of the band, who announced his homosexual orientation on a satellite program.
After the concert, the Egyptian Music Syndicate announced that Mashrou’ Leila was banned from holding concerts in Egypt.
The union’s representative at the time, Reda Ragab, commented that “the union decided to stop the upcoming concerts of that band,” stressing: “We are not a party of repression, but such concerts will not be held in Egypt again.”
Sarah Hegazy… the person who tried
Sarah Hegazy is the sister of two brothers and one sister. In 2010, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems, then completed her studies at the American University in Cairo, Center for Continuing Education in 2016, through distance learning.
She was from a middle-class family, from a village in Egypt. After the death of her father, she was the most caring for her mother, especially after she was diagnosed with cancer.
She was also caring for her sisters and emotionally attached to her family. She understood their fear of her difference, which they learned of in the worst possible way, after her arrest, through the trial and the media.
Sarah tried to create a safe space for herself in which she could live in Egypt after her release from prison.
But, the constant pressure from society, and the multiple fronts of the war in which she entered with a graceful, strong and bold pen, prompted her friends, and loved ones to persuade her to travel, even for a while.
But fate wanted her mother to die while she was in the first month of her enforced exile, alone in her city. And that tragedy was a rock that drove Sarah to the bottom again.
The butterfly effect never goes away
What is difficult about letting others practice what they believe in?
How did we think that we are responsible for what others do with themselves /?
How many butterflies will burn until we understand that love and acceptance of others is the only way to live together despite our differences? And that the colors of the spectrum do not exclude anyone, but rather accept everyone, and declare that our different colors mix without the need for melding, and merge without the need for submission. They go on and on, beautiful and unique without the need to match!
There is no objection if you cannot love a person or even if you cannot prevent your feeling of aversion towards a person or a cause. But do not translate this feeling into violence, into pushing a person towards death, and do not fight them with blood, threats and imprisonment. That’s all that is needed!
Sarah, I always wonder: “Would it have made any difference if I had been free the night you made this heartbreaking decision? The night when sadness took hold of your smile, and turned the light in your eyes into a silence that spreads its noise forever?
I always selfishly wonder, too: “How much difference would it have made if you were still there when I got out of my prison. And this mutual friend who told me that he thought my imprisonment increased your grief despite the distance between us, and we only shared words. Could you have told me that this is not true?”
In what ways do our paths cross again in that life? In any case, may your soul have the peace and love you have always proclaimed.
“Suicide is a murder committed by people who will never be convicted! An entire community participated in the crime. And that deep sadness should have been translated into action.. and that action is the most appropriate. Peace be upon those whom I loved and who loved me.”
Written by Sarah Hegazy, posted on her blog in August 2017.