July 16, 2014
Dear habibty Yara,
It’s Nelly Bassily here. Yara, first, I’m sending you lots and lots of solidarity and love from Canada! Habibty, you have to be one of the strongest and most amazing young feminists I have the pleasure and honour to call a friend in Egypt. When I first saw on Facebook that people were being detained on June 21 and I saw the name Yara in that list, my first reaction was: “Yara Sallam? No, please no. Please tell me this is not Yara Sallam?” When it was confirmed, I was completely at a loss for words.
Although I definitely feel for and am in solidarity with all those unjustly detained and I realize that you are not the only one unjustly detained, this suddenly became so personal because I know you. (What a crazy world we live in when we need to be jostled out of our slumbers about the injustice that happens around us mainly when we know someone personally. I’m guilty of that)
My first post on Facebook was the following:
#freeyara #freeallunjustlydetained Yara is a lawyer, feminist activist and human rights defender. Thinking about you Yara!
The link I posted with that comment was of the interview I did with you just a few months back about women reclaiming public space through biking in Cairo. Remember? I re-listened to your voice and that made me so happy. My favourite part of the interview is when you said: “I think it is important for us to know that our personal life matters and I really believe that a feminist act is not only on the political level and it is not only about talking about women in the parliament or other very public or political issues, so we need to remember that our small personal victories can actually make us stronger in the public space and can help us address more public or political issues.”
Yara habibty, I’m quoting this back to you to remind you and to remind myself that you are SO completely right! Please don’t lose sight of these words. Your life does matter and many of us are crying out on every public sphere possible to make your story known until you and the others are freed.
As I write you this letter, I thought of you again today because, just last night (July 15th), someone stole my bike. I thought about this interview I did with you about biking because as much as I was sad about the theft, I thought, it’s not the physical bike I’m really sad about, it’s the loss of my main mode of transportation, it’s my small lose of freedom of mobility. But that tiny sense of loss of freedom of mobility pales in comparison to your completely unjust and unjustified loss of freedom; all that to say that it puts things back into perspective and I have you to thank for that. I admire your strength and steadfastness in the face of injustice. As a tribute to you and all others unjustly detained, I have called my stolen bike Yara! Because, even though my bike was stolen, I won’t lose hope that it will be returned to me just as I will never stop making noise and never, ever back down from the hope and knowledge that you and all the others unjustly detained will be free and will continue to make some feminist noise and fight for our personal victories (big and small) because yours and everybody else’s life matters and that justice will prevail. That I truly believe.
Lots and lots of love and I will have you back to my radio show, ya Yara – very soon Inshallah! And we will both be hopping back on our bikes, bardo very soon inshallah . El horeya gaya gaya! Thank you for being the amazingly wonderful person that you are!
With distant but tremendously enormous and heartfelt feminist hugs,
P.S. This is a picture of the bike Yara
Nelly Bassily is a feminist hoping for a better world for all. She makes media and tweets @nellybassily