About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Sherouk wearing a hijab and smiling with her hands clasped

Sherouk Salah

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Elsayed Elsehemy Abdelhamid

“I can’t imagine living in a place where my neighbor may report me at any moment,” says Sherouk Salah (34) of her home country, Egypt. “Where is the stability, safety and belonging?” Salah, a research assistant, lives as a refugee in Turkey with her son. When doing a Masters degree in Germany, Salah dreamt of “working in the field of development projects when I come back to Egypt […] of Egypt becoming a better country.” However, the political situation after 2013 dashed her plans: “Egypt is a country that is not safe for women […] It is not safe for anyone who has a political opinion and position.” In Turkey, she found strength in writing and translation work. Now, her dream is “to get a PhD, work at university, buy a small house and car […] raise my son in quiet conditions.” Despite the hardships, Salah is proud of her principles: “If time returns, I will not change my situation […] I feel that what I owe to reality is that I have never chosen to support and encourage corrupt people.”

Trigger Warning: Death, sexual violence/rape, violence/murder

full interview

I’m Mr. Jafari. I told you before about the 1000 dreams project. Now I want you to introduce yourself, who is Shurooq
Well, I’m Shurouq Salah, I’m 34 years old, I’m an Egyptian girl but I’ve been living in Istanbul since 2018. I also got a master’s degree from Cologne University in Germany in 2017. I had previously lived in Germany from 2012 until the end of 2017. I graduated from Suez University, Faculty of Science, Egypt in 2010. I am currently working as a research assistant in a project that aims to document modern Egyptian oral history from 2010 until now. I also work as a freelance translator and content writer for a British Relief Foundation. In general, I have worked in the field of writing and creating content for 3 years.

From which university did you graduate in 2010?
I graduated from the Faculty of Science, Department of Botany, Biology Department from Suez Canal University in Egypt.

How did the idea of going to Germany and traveling outside Egypt come to your mind?
After I graduated from my bachelor’s degree, I started volunteering and engaging in community work. I worked for an association specialized in development projects. After that, I got to know my ex-husband and he was going to travel to Germany. I decided to travel with him for two years to get my master’s degree. I was planning to return to Egypt after obtaining my master’s degree. My travel period was after the Egyptian revolution and I thought I would definitely return to Egypt. Then I finished my master’s degree in environmental and cultural studies in Africa. I intended to focus on environmental studies as it is related to my undergraduate specialization, which is science. However, after a while, I started to have a passion for studying community work. I started to dream of working in the field of development projects when I come back to Egypt and I started to dream of Egypt becoming a better country. My tendencies towards humanitarian work and community service started to increase little by little and I started to focus on this part of my master’s program, which was a multi-faceted program. However, in the middle of my master’s degree, there was a military coup in Egypt and then my ideas changed and my view of things changed significantly.

What coup do you mean?
I mean the military coup in Egypt, which was followed by the dismantling of the Rabaa protest. My ideas changed significantly after these events. After that, I no longer liked the idea of returning to Egypt, so I then decided to go for community studies. I left my previous dream of  environmental studies and then focused my attention on anthropology in particular.

What does the military coup and the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest have to do with your decision not to return to Egypt?
Well, for me, Egypt has been the country I would love to live and die in and offer my experience and everything I could to make it a better place. After the coup, I felt that this place no longer represented me. I have never been affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood or any other political movement. My position was not in response to the overthrow of Dr. Morsi (may Allah have mercy on him), but it was due to my real problem with the idea of popular acceptance of the military coup and societal acceptance of abuse of people who were their neighbors and live with them normally. I was surprised how collective awareness believed the illogical words spoken in the media.

Like what?
Like saying that the Muslim Brotherhood is terrorists or that there is a platform under a fourth platform and there is a globe where people are kidnapped and tortured. And that Hamas has somehow entered and carried out bombings in Tahrir Square. This was very strange. It is not strange that it was issued by the media. My expectations from the Egyptian media are low from the beginning, but what is strange to me is that people believed this speech after it started to spread on June 30 and how people started to make very violent movements and report each other. You may see the man divorcing his wife and the wife reporting her husband. In addition to the terrible movement of arrests that started in 2013, in addition to the enforced disappearances and the political liquidation. In fact, this was all very scary for me and I felt that it was not the place I would like to live in and not the place where I would like to raise my son. By chance, I was in the eighth month of pregnancy on the day of the dismantling of the Rabaa protest. I then asked myself whether I want to send my son to a school where people are lying or to a school where teachers tell a fake story of the  history, just because they want to show that Egypt is fighting terrorism, the new administration, the capital and others. Egypt is no longer the place where I would feel safe for myself and my son, so I leave my previous dreams and decided to go to work in community studies. This is the story.

Well, I understand the idea of popular and community acceptance, collective awareness and others, but for me these matters are general, and this is the context in Egypt until this moment. Did you decide not to return to Egypt based on your understanding of the context in this way? Or are there other things that are more personal or deeper and more related to this context?
For me, this context was a personal matter. I mean, the idea of living in the country where you grew up with your family, but you have no guarantee for anything. Let’s take the coup. Let’s say that there was a military coup by the army against the elected civilian authority, regardless of our opinion on this coup. People turned on each other. I felt that this has withdrawn from the public sphere and has become in the personal field, because you do not guarantee the person in front of you may turn against you at any moment, because this is met with the blessing of the Authority and the police. In addition to the widespread atrocity that the Interior Ministry is still dealing with. Then I asked myself, since I had visited Egypt in the first 18 days, where I was going to Ismailia, is this the country I wanted to die for? What will I do when I return to Egypt? For example, In the past, I had the same ideas as Heba Rashid Marcel today. I don’t know if you have heard about her before. Marcel is a role model of the individual who still has the ability to hold up in the midst of ruin, which I envy her for. It’s like when there’s a hill of ruin, but there must be a steadfast individual. After all, there are millions of people in Egypt. In a moment, I stopped and asked myself do I have this ability to hold up? I found that I don’t have it. I can’t work in the community development and help a thousand million people in a country that is full of corruption, and that’s the problem.

Would you like to drink something?
Lemon and soda, please.

What were you missing at that moment?
I didn’t had the ability to give, I was slaughtered by Egypt. Or to be more specific, my thoughts about the national cohesion and that people are good and Egyptians act according to morals, i discovered that these things are from my imagination, or that they are not related to the real life situation. What I mean is that at one point, the ruling regime and the media agreed on the idea of directing people against Israel and directing people to support Gaza. Regardless of whether this was true or just a discharge of feelings, it was there. People were showing support and were going out in supportive demonstrations. Then the same ruling regime sent a completely different message to the people. Then people started to view the people of Gaza as intruders and thought that they want to steal us. Also, people’s ideas towards Hamas have changed. For me, these fluctuations were very annoying and psychologically tiring and I have no ability to withstand it. For me, Egypt has lost the character that makes it a place where you can live and have the space and freedom to say what you believe is right or wrong. But, All this is over. people no longer talk about the palestinian issue and there is no longer Israel in their thoughts,I mean the word enemy is no longer said or the idea of having an affiliation. They have all become very bad concepts. All things are going according to the mood and the current scenario of the media channels. I don’t watch TV but I watch the Joshua show on YouTube. Joshua shows fragmented clips covering all events on a weekly basis. The media channels say the same words all the time.

What you said relates to the general context and the media, but you also said that Egypt has slaughtered you. Can you explain the matter?
Let me explain to you that the general context is not a separate context. Television addresses people who, in turn, accept the ideas presented, and then these people become mouthpieces that spread this media discourse. There is no clear framework of ethics, standards, affiliations, definitions and clear concepts as before. At least in the pre-revolutionary period, there were many people who say that President Hosni Mubarak is corrupt. Yes, there was no freedom, but there was a clear and specific framework for such matters. After the coup, you are no longer able to keep your mind and ideas. This is no longer the case. What becomes prevalent among people is that people are changing their ideas based on the idea that they are afraid of terrorism, for example, which is illogical. Yes, there is terrorism, but using a specific message to harm people is very harmful to me. This is not the country I want to live or die in or even raise my son in. In Egypt, you pay the price of your words or your opinion in matters that are considered obvious. I mean, for example, I say that I am against what happened in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. I am told directly that you belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. I say: No, people, and even if you belong to the Brotherhood, first of all, what does this matter have to do, and second, do I have to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to be a human being and say that it is not permissible to kill a thousand people in six hours? Here you are obliged to explain and defend the axioms and then you will be imprisoned for your words.

So you felt obliged to explain the basics, but when you said your opinion about what happened in Rabaa Square, did you feel that there was a different opinion regarding that issue?
Yes, there were many opinions that contradicted mine. When the Rabaa protest was dismantled, I was in Germany and I was shocked to see friends of mine, believe that everything happened was because it was an armed protest. What I remember very well related to the idea that Egypt slaughtered me is what a friend of mine did. She is my closest friend in Egypt. She sent me a message on the day of authorization saying: We are going to dance with joy at the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power. I couldn’t imagine at this moment that we have reached 2013. For example, we are not in the year 50 to say, for example, that people have been confused by the idea of a military coup and do not know that it is something shameful and harmful. The country is coming to a phase if it is not a civil war, it is a very bad phase. When she said they were going to dance, I wanted to ask them are you all right? Do you understand what is happening?

How did you gain this awareness?
I really don’t know, I’ve always read and ask. Why did we overthrow President Mubarak in the first place? Why did people die in the revolution? And for what? Mubarak could have survived. There have been several experiences in which there have been military coups and people have paid the price. Why do we want to repeat the wheel? Let’s say they did not pay the price. How can it be accepted that there will be an elected civilian president at all, and then it becomes like a jungle. These things are self-evident to me and I don’t understand why we might have to explain them. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the people who were happy with the dissolution of power. This was the ultimate blow for me.

What is the ultimate blow?
Why would a person go down to Egypt and think he is safe and then be killed in the street, and then people think he deserved to die. This is not supposed to be the form of a healthy community that people should live in. I can’t imagine living in a place where my neighbor may report me at any moment. This is not a normal or even humanitarian situation. Where is the stability, safety and belonging?

Has something similar happened to people close to you? For example, they were reported? Or say you saw sympathy for the ending of the sit-in, for example?
To be honest, yes I saw many people showing sympathy regarding the ending of Rabaa square sit-in . Also, several hours after the announcement of the death of Asmaa Al-Beltagi, there was a presence of Al Jazeera channel and they were holding live meetings with the public. I heard it with my own ears, that “Al-Beltagi falsified the news of his daughter’s death in order to gain people’s sympathy”. What is going on and how can anyone think in that way? Apart from that Beltagi is the person most people have agreed with. Let’s say we don’t know who he is, this man have a good reputation as well. So,how can people have this ability to create such sordid things only to prove their political positions, in a situation that is not political at all. I felt that every value, every principle and every obvious definition had fallen, it seems that humanity itself and the definitions reached by civilization had ended in Egypt. it is like it had gone back a long time and entered an era of brutality and inhumanity that was very frightening. And this was the most important thing for me.

So,the reflections and perceptions you have about Egypt…
It’s all gone.

So, your dreams after getting  your master’s degree are all over?
Yes, they are all over and I decided not to return to Egypt. When I was in Germany and after obtaining my master’s degree, I worked at the university as a research assistant for a short time. After that, I was unable to continue and decided to travel to Turkey. And what encouraged me is that my family came from Egypt for similar reasons, I mean, because disputes and tension started to appear in the streets of Egypt, and people were accused of being supporters of the Rabaa protest or being members of the Muslim Brotherhood. My family started to face these difficulties in addition to accusations that they don’t want Egypt to become better. But it was a military coup. People no longer dared to say the word military coup, and people started to be arrested randomly and with frightening numbers. My brother Osama, who is three years younger than me, was stopped on the street twice by the first section of Samaliya because he was using his phone to take photos or videos. They took his phone to know what he was filming. He started screaming. My mother then advised him not to shout in such cases so that it would not be a reason for their arrest. In fact, at this time, anyone may be arrested, as there are conducting many security checks on buses and cars, or anyone they do not like or suspect for any reason, such as posts on Facebook or any possible danger. People are turning off Facebook when they walk on the street. My mother felt that life in Egypt was no longer a safe or suitable environment. Turkey was the simplest place they could travel to, as it was easy to issue a visa. My parents traveled to Turkey in 2016 and I went in 2018, when I found that I could no longer stay in Germany alone and could not complete the journey on my own in Germany, so the presence of my family encouraged me to come to Turkey. Especially since my husband is not with me. If he was there, I would have stayed in Germany and forced myself to endure it. But having my family in Turkey encouraged me to come to them. I had decided to stay in Turkey for only one year and didn’t imagine that I would stay longer. It has been four years since I was in Turkey. In the first year I tried different things. I also started writing and translating, and things improved significantly. Even my son, I found that he was in need of a family atmosphere. We have been separated from his father for a long time, i.e. since 2015, so his presence with my mother and brothers has provided him with family support and this is why I chose Turkey. I chose Turkey because my family is there and not for Turkey itself.

So can we say at this moment when we speak that Egypt’s option has been permanently canceled?
As for me, Egypt’s file has been completely canceled since 2013. This decision has been reinforced by the coup and the Rabaa file. If we arguably assume that there has been reconciliation between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt has become politically secure, I think that the societal rift that has arisen between people is very difficult to heal. At other levels, Egypt is a country that is not safe for women. As a girl, I am always subject to murder and harassment. It is not safe for anyone who has a political opinion and position. They are subject to arrest at any time and may be reported as well. In addition to being separated from my husband, the idea of living in a house by myself was not safe. I live in a lawless country. If anything happens to me, I will not be able to go to the police station and report it. I do not believe that I will get my right or that they will protect me. As a mother, I always think about the possibility of my son’s illness. I won’t be able to find a place for treatment easily. Let’s go back to Marcel’s example. It does what the state is supposed to do. It provides nurseries and others. I’ll give you a simple example that happened before the coup. In 2008, my father suffered a stroke as a result of which he fell into a coma and stayed for 21 days in the intensive care unit.I believe that souls are in the hands of God and that His time has come. But when the stroke happened, it was 8 pm and my father was at his workplace in Hurghada. They went out by ambulance and took him to El Gouna, but they did not find a specific medical device. So, they went to Assiut. There they did not find an intensive care bed with a ventilator. So,they went to Cairo and arrived at dawn time. Oh God, they kept going from one hospital to another. My father has been working in an important position in the field of tourism in a large hotel for many years and has many contacts in his field. My uncles are also doctors. After trying to find medication, at 7 am, 11 hours later, we were able to admit him to the intensive care unit at the World Medical Center that Mubarak opened on Ismailia Road. If we tried to calculate the matter with paper and pen, if it was in Germany or any developed country, or if Hurghada had an equipped hospital, it would have been possible to save his life, for example, or he may still alive but develping some health problems, but he died clinically on the way. The situation is now worse. Yesterday, someone wrote on Facebook: “On the journey to find an intensive care bed for my father, I went through seven taverns” and his father died after that. This is the situation in Egypt. You are unsafe and do not have the luxury of going to the hospital for treatment. You will either pay thousands of pounds and then get poor service or be left to die on the street.

Is there a connection between your father’s death and your decision to leave Egypt in 2013?
My father died in 2008. This story I’m telling you happened in 2008.

Yes I know this.
I went through two major stages in Egypt. In 2010, I was in my last year of college. I was young, dreamy and very naive. I was very active in university and trying to convince people not to elect Gamal Mubarak. It is useless to bring a thief. The naïve idea was that he was full and rich so he would not rob us .like What? Do we only elect those with high salaries to prevent them from stealing  us? Can you imagine the naivety of such ambition? We wanted to elect someone who would not steal us, can you imagine it? He actually stole a lot and had a lot of stolen goods. The bet was that he would not steal more. I thought that things should not be managed this way. ElBaradei was a good choice for me. I was young and I didn’t understand anything yet, but at least I thought Gamal Mubarak was inappropriate. In 2010, I was very nervous because of my undergraduate exams. This was during the end for Jamal Mubarak ruling. I was constantly tired. I went to the doctor who is specialized in brain and nerves. I had frequent faintings. He asked me if I am in love with someone? I told him no. So he said why are you doing these girls’ movements? He asked me are you thinking about it? I told him I am thinking of Gamal Mubarak. He asked me with surprise why. I told him I think he should not rule the country. He told me what is your relationship to it? I still remember the place well. I told him that I do not want to leave the country. At the same time, I cannot live in a country ruled by Gamal Mubarak. I do not know what to do. In 2010, the idea of leaving Egypt was completely unlikely for me. I used to say that I would stay in Egypt and it wouldn’t matter whether I lived or died. At the same time, I felt that something big was going wrong in Egypt and at the same time I had hope. I had no dream of revolution or anything similar, but I felt that we had space to say no at least. I would not say that I congratulate Mubarak’s rule, but the situation was better not because Mubarak is good but because Sisi is really crazy. I was not mature enough to understand and say, as some people say, that this is simply not my field and I will not be able to continue . This was my position in 2013.

How do these moments affect you now?
It seems to me that I want to leave Turkey, as its political and social situation is unstable for foreigners. Yesterday, I was reviewing all the options for countries I could live in. I asked myself where would I like to live? What do I want in life? I have lived for thirty years and if I live another thirty years, what would I like this life to look like? I found that I have a huge tragedy in that I do not have a residence permit that would make it easier for me to live somewhere. Imagine being forced to review countries or continents, for example, to go and live in Africa, volunteer in the field of orphan care or any simple task and do charity work so that I will be satisfied and happy. But I’m not rich and I don’t have any savings or anything that generates me money . I need money but how much money do I want? I don’t know. Can I go to live in Europe to get a residence permit and then live in Africa or to where should I travel? Can you imagine getting to the moment when you will review all the countries where you can live and achieve a minimum of decent life for you? You are not asking for anything fabulous and your home country is not on this list. You cannot include it in the list. If I have to stay here for any reason and my residence permit is canceled, I will go to Jordan. I will stay for a month and then I will not be able to renew my residency permit in Jordan unless I get an employment contract. Also, life in Jordan is very expensive. If I can live here with an average standard of living, I will work with the same efforts to live at a much lower level in Jordan. Why don’t I have the option of living in my country, in my house with honor? Where I’m comfortable and sitting with one leg on top of the other and receiving my father’s pension. Why do I not have this basic right? President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has not only taken power. He has not only turned against President Mohamed Morsi. He stole Mohamed Morsi, stole the rule and the presidency and stole the affection that was among people with the help of all his supporters, including the media and others. He stole the affection that was between Egyptians and made a rift between them that I do not think will heal. him and his supporters have also stolen the lives of sixty thousand people they are holding in detention facilities. a double of this number have had their lives stolen because they have to stay in Egypt because their parents are there but they are unable to enjoy life. They have also stolen lives of thousands because they cannot return to their country and cannot go to their country’s embassies to renew their passports. What is this injustice? How can a person be so despicable and brutal? They tell you that Alsisi  is building a new capital and similar words, a capital of what and a what a lack of politeness is this! A multi-million pound mosque is being built, while ignoring people who have nothing to eat. How are you going to defend such a country? Or how would you want to live in it, for example?

Now how do you deal with your decision not to return to Egypt and at the same time that you do not find stability in Turkey. How do you face the distance, being apart from people you loved and all the emotions that have arisen? 
Well, in fact, one important aspect for me is that I believe in Allah Almighty and that the world, no matter how long or short, is not the end. This gives me the ability to reconcile with the course of life. Whatever we live, we will leave in the end and stand in the hands of God and he will hold us accountable for our actions.

How is what?

You told me that you have an internal reconciliation with life. How did you get to it?
Actually, I don’t know how I got there. What does it have to do with adapting and accepting the consequences that may occur? On the one hand, all people may experience troubles in life. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was forced to leave Mecca one day when he left Mecca, said, “By Allah, you are the most beloved country to me. If they don’t take me out of you, I would not have gone out ever. But, in the end, he went to the city, from which is aptly named and became a complete and integrated political city with provisions and legislation. So, as long as the Prophet could not live in the place he loved, it would be acceptable to me to have a similar situation. The idea of the doomsday is very comfortable to me. God is present and we will take our right from Sisi on the doomsday, although I always pray to take it from him in this life. But, If that does not happen, I will not be sad.

Who is he?
Sisi and his supporters. I think that even if this does not happen, God’s land is vast. In fact, I am a life-loving person. On the other hand, I believe that the world has many places worth visiting and that we were not created with a mind, hands, feet and mobility to live and die in the same place. For me, twenty years is long enough, and this is what I always say to myself after the words I told you two minutes ago. Yes, there is injustice and this is the state of the world. I have to leave. I may travel to live for one or two years in one country and then go to another country and so on. This is what God has written to me and what fate holds for me.

What was your dream when you were in Egypt? 
My dream in Egypt was to work in the local council in Ismailia, being responsible for one of the departments and working in the local council.

Why did you choose Ismailia in particular?
Ismailia is a very beautiful city, or rather it used to be. It has delicious mangoes and beautiful gardens that are incredibly beautiful. I have lived in Ismailia, but I am not from there, and my father or mother as well. I was born and studied primary school in Alexandria. Then my father started working in the field of oil drilling. His main specialty was food and drink. He worked in the field of excavators for years and then went to work in the tourism sector. At that time, my mother had only given birth to me and my brother Osama. Alexandria was a big city. At that time, my father suggested that we move to a smaller city, Ismailia, so that we would have more space for movement and walking. My father used to serve in the army in Ismailia and then worked for a temporary period with the United Nations in Ismailia. He loved this city very much. We also had relatives there, but they were not first-degree relatives. My mother loved my father very much, so she agreed to everything. On this basis, we moved to Ismailia when I was 10 years old. Then I traveled to Germany at the age of 20. That is, I lived in Ismailia for only ten years, but I see myself as one of its people. I entered school and university there. I loved it because my parents loved it. It is a city that makes you love it. It is very beautiful, small and has gardens, but it had some problems, such as accumulated garbage and others. I hoped to help solve these crises and keep Ismailia a beautiful city. It was the dream of my life to work in the local council and this still to be my biggest dream even after the revolution, and I was waiting to reach the legal age. Before I traveled to Germany and got married, I was studying a diploma in civil society management at Cairo University and it was my choice to be a member of the regimen.

What is the situation of garbage in Ismailia now?
Ismailia now has bars. This is what someone told me that there are many bars there and tunnels and gardens are no longer there.

Did you feel sad when you heard this news?
Yes, I felt a little sad. It is unfortunate enough that they have removed the park and removed Antoniades from Alexandria. My mother’s parents live in Alexandria and said that what happened there was a tragedy and the beaches were closed. I think Egypt was raped.

What is your relationship with Ismailia now?
The last time I went to Egypt and Ismailia was in 2008 and in this moment while I am talking to you, my aunts are emptying our house there. My family have been here in Turkey since 2016, six years ago and my mother has finally given in to the idea that we will not return to Egypt, so they are emptying the house.

Do you have a house in Ismailia?
We have a house in Ismailia that was paid for previously. They will empty it and hand it over to its owner so we no longer have a house in Ismailia.

What about the furniture in the house?
They distributed it to the people in need.

And who will live in the house after that?
The owner of the house will live in it.

Why did your mother decide to hand over the house?
Because she finally thought it was useless to keep saying that we would return to Egypt. My aunts had to go home every time and look at it. My mother asked them to hand over the house and look for people in need or a charitable organization to give them furniture.

Why did your mother give them the keys to the house?
My aunts go to our house every month or two and they clean it and pay gas and electricity bills based on  that one day we will return. My mother told them that these machines and furniture exist and no one benefits from them. And, It is better to look for people in need and give it to them. So, they have done that.

If you return to Egypt, how will you manage without having a house there?
If I return to Egypt at all, I don’t want to live in our old house. I don’t know, but all of Egypt and Ismailia have never meant walls or apartments to me. Have you seen the video posted on Facebook entitled Beautiful Egypt and where someone helps a person who fell on the ground. On the other hand, I remember cases of girls being raped on the street and no one responds to them in return. For me, it is the same.

You told me that your dream before leaving Egypt was to work in the People’s Assembly.
Yes, and it continued until I traveled to Germany. I traveled with the intention of completing my Master’s degree and then returning back to Egypt. This dream continued until the coup.

What are your dreams now?
My current dreams are to get a PhD, work at university, buy a small house and car and be able to raise my son in quiet conditions. I have no dreams in the public field, but a year ago I dreamed of becoming a famous writer, but I no longer see this as fulfilling my value. What achieves my value is to see my son grow up comfortable, stable and have the basics that make me live a safe life. For me, having my family, friends and nice stable relationships is much better than my presence in the Political Assembly.

So you’re saying that your current dreams don’t have any dreams related to the public sphere.
Yes, they are all related to achievements in the personal field. They only relate to me, my family and friends.

Have you thought about the details of the house you want to buy? What does it look like? The details related to it? 
I think about these details every day, but have not decided the matter yet. I have a problem with the escalation of racist and hate speech towards us as third world countries, Arabs and Muslims all over the world, first of all here in Turkey. for example, I have all the elements that do not give me the “privilege”. I am a woman, brunette, Muslim, wearing hijab, from Egypt and not from an important country. I have nothing special. I think that all racist rhetoric anywhere can touch me. So I think and would absolutely love to live in northern Turkey in the Riza Mountains or live in Nairobi.

Nairobi in Kenya?
I would love to live in Botswana and Mauritania, but all this does not work now. I have to have a coffee farmer that generates income. But, this is not realistic. I have to work hard. I really don’t know where I should live, but I know that I should live in a place that provides me with the legal and political support I need. My short-term plan is to travel to Europe to get a PhD, get a fixed residence permit, and then get a European passport later. But I don’t want to stay in Europe forever, or this is my opinion at least. I say it because I might have changed my mind if I met you after four years, for example.

Yes, we may meet again but I won’t ask you what are your dreams. Now tell me what are your dreams for your son Zein?
As for my dreams towards Zein, my son, I want him to be emotional but realistic because I was a young, emotional, unrealistic and almost living in a fantasy world. I dream of him growing up and strengthening his relationship with Allah Almighty. My role will be only to provide him with resources and let him do it alone. I want my son Zein to be a Muslim who loves Allah Almighty, the Holy Quran and the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but appropriately he is free to make his own choices and this  is consistent with what I think in terms of the fact that there is a philosophy of Islam rather than mere teachings. You will apply the teachings lovingly when you deeply understand philosophy. However, we were raised on the contrary. We were raised to practice certain rituals without knowing the reason and meaning behind them. This is what I am currently trying to do with Zein. Thanks to Allah, I am committed to prayer and Ramadan fasting. He knows that we should pray and fast, but why should we pray and fast? This is what I focus more on when talking to him. I am trying to make him build a spiritual relationship with Allah, which will help him develop a mechanism of thinking and analysis that is consistent with his personality, ideas and the society in which he lives. He may not be strict. He may be open minded, but cannot live this openness flexibly without being shocked. This is in terms of religion. On the other hand, I want Zein to grow up and not be afraid to tell the truth. This is one of the things that I love in my self. This price is high. For example, I do not encourage and support any corrupt person. I would love for Zein to be so, learn things he loves and  to learn a craft so that if the world enters a painful life dominated by virtual reality, I want Zein to be completely out of it. It is my wish that we stay away from these things.

What are your dreams for your family?
As for my family, I do not want any of them to be deported to Egypt. I want them to have paper (physical) stability and psychological stability as well.

What do you mean by paper stability?
I mean that they have a permanent and stable residence and can renew their passport from the Embassy of Egypt. My mother has been trying to renew her passport since month 9 in 2019.

What happened next?
Nothing happened. They spend months doing security inquiries and then other months go by and they ask you to wait. She has been waiting for the ninth month of 2019. Can you imagine? This is not fair. I hope we get other nationalities or Egypt start to respect us and issue us passports as normal people.

So your dream for them is to get paper stability and psychological stability.
Yes, these are almost the same ideas I have for myself, which is to be compatible with ourselves. I believe that the greatest achievement a person can achieve is to pay for his choices and then not regret paying the price. For example, if you decide to risk losing something in exchange for speaking out or standing with an oppressed person, then you pay a very painful price and lose things but do not regret it. If time returns, I will not change my situation. For example, I always write on Facebook that I declare and am proud that I have never been against the revolution and have not supported the military junta since its first day. This is something I love and am very proud of. Whenever I remember it, I feel that what I owe to reality is that I have never chosen to support and encourage corrupt people. I have a great dream to free all detainees and to extinguish the embers in the hearts of families of Ali Abdel Fattah, Jaafar al-Zaafarani and Ahmed Douma, although I do not love him at all, and Mustafa Al-Najjar if he is still alive. Their names are often repeated on the news tape. I hope that they will be free in any way and with any reconciliation. The followers of the regime have taken over Egypt anyway.

(The Turkish waiter asks us not to talk because we are in a coffee shop and has asked us to sit in the library.)

Well, you used to say that you dream for Egypt is about the release of detainees from Egypt.
Yes, this is my only dream for Egypt, and I don’t care about anything else.

Do you want to add anything or is there something I forgot to ask you?
No, everything is fine.

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.