Twenty five years ago, I never thought I would be in the same place where I am now, as an Arabic freelancer and former journalist. Started as newspaper designer and later an art director, I learned how to make headlines. By then, I aimed to have my business making me in headlines one day. As I changed my career from designing into freelancing, I realized that I was mistaken to dream of being the main headline of a daily newspaper in Egypt, because it simply means that I will be jailed, tortured, or shot dead.
Being a journalist and freelancer for a daily newspaper in a country where political and economic situations are chaotic is not an easy business; it is a challenge not just to say what I want to say, but to remain safe as well. I chose to shift from designing to being a journalist and writer under Mubarak’s regime in 2005. My first article was about insignificance of media coverage of corruption in Egypt. So you can imagine writing about corruption in a corrupted environment. I continued to write until 2009, then was warned twice and forced to stop writing after. I resumed writing after Mubarak stepped down. When the Muslim Brotherhood took over power, people found me criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood regime severely, and later criticizing President Abdel-Fatah Al-Sisi for Raba Al-Adwia Square massacre.
People thought I would stop being critical as regimes change, but they learned that objectivity is my own secrete. It was important for me to expose myself to all political streams, but I have never affiliated or followed any of them. This way I was able to understand the point of views of the conservatives, liberals, socialists at the same time. I knew that if I follow any political party or ideology, I can only see through its lens.
My industry isn’t safe or objective though. Whereas a freelancer follows the business goals, I do exactly the opposite. I work for those who do not ask me to mediate their views or to write about them. But I managed to find media owners who believe that free society is the key answer for having democracy in Egypt. My greatest adventure was not in Egypt though; it was when I wrote about the 2006 war in Lebanon. I traveled to there when I was warned that moving an inch would cost me my life. It lived and worked over for a year. It was a difficult assignment in a filed battle, not merely because I was trying to survive, but also because it was impossible to capture the truth. Since then, I have learned that the first causality in a war is not people but the truth.