I was sitting at this concert at Darb 1718 watching ‘El Dor El Awal’ whisk people away with their tunes to a far away world, when I remembered him.
His name was Khaled Mohamed Sai’d and he was beaten to death by two police officers. The reasons why are not important and, at least to me, irrelevant.
I had read the news this morning, and saw the pictures, they have shaken and disturbed me. But here I was on the same night, lying on the grass, listening to good music, laughing with my friends, playing with my hair and clapping and cheering for the band, as if no great injustice has befallen an innocent man. And it’s natural, I never knew him. And I won’t pretend that the news had affected me or stayed on my mind beyond a mere two or three hours after reading about it. Next week, I’ll probably forget him completely and the week after perhaps the name won’t even ring a bell — and mind you I’m a journalist so it’s not like my work doesn’t involve following up on these cases. However, there’s a big chance everything will be forgotten anyway and so it follows that his story might not be “sexy” enough (in journo lingo) to follow up on in a week or two.
But for a moment, I thought: What if I really cared? What if we all did?
What if the band, instead of playing, had come to the microphone to announce that Khaled had died brutally and so they will withhold their music until justice has been brought to his family, and to us?
What if we had decided to strike, not to go to work, not to buy or sell, or visit friends or watch TV or go to the movies until an investigation is held into his murder?
What if tomorrow no one showed up for Friday prayers and sheikhs gave angry sermons against our rulers to empty mosques in protest of this inhumane killing?
What if we all decided to wear black in mourning?
What if we brought everything to a standstill until we’re told why a young man’s bones were broken, face battered until every last breath left him and why on Earth is his assaulter running free?
But of course we wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t. Who does that anyway? And if we did that for every injustice that has befallen man, maybe life would have stopped … or maybe it would have been perfect. But we won’t know really.
And perhaps if I didn’t work in news, I’d forget about him tomorrow.
Heartbreaking, isn’t it?