Mazen, the first disabled person to climb St Catherine mountain in Sinai, promoting rights for disabled in Egypt
Mazen is the first disabled person to climb Mount Saint Catherine in Sinai, to promote rights for the handicapped in Egypt. Mazen contracted polio when he was 3 years old, while he was escaping Iraq with his family during the First Gulf War.
According to World Health Organization’s statistics, 10% of Egypt’s total population suffers from physical or mental disabilities. The 1975 Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons law didn't bring progress to the living conditions of the disabled. During the two years that followed the revolution, with 18 months of military rule followed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s government, Egypt’s handicapped population, estimated at over 8 million, continue to face more of the same problems. The precarious and difficult situation in a city like Cairo, one of the most chaotic in the world due to a substantial lack of infrastructure, is unfortunately only one of the many problems handicapped people face in Egypt. A lack of rights, health care and increased social marginalization inspired Mazen, who has been handicapped since the age of 3, to get involved in political activism, prompting him to join the 6th of April movement in 2010.
In November 2012, during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, Mazen lost his close friend and companion of the 6th of April movement, Gika. Since then, he decided to change his methods of protest, and to start a more responsible and peaceful activism campaign through symbolic actions.
Three months ago, he completed the first of several actions, climbing the Keops pyramid in Giza. On the 6th of April 2013, for the anniversary of the movement, he decided to climb the 1586 m and 750 stairs of mount Saint Catherine in Sinai.
00:00 - 00: 44 sec intro VO
Mazen is the first disabled person to climb mount Sinai, promoting rights for handicapped people in Egypt.
According to World Health Organization, 10% of Egypt’s population, over 8 million people suffer from a disability. The Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons law of 1975 didn't improve their living conditions. In Egypt little attention is paid to the difficulties of the handicapped, especially in Cairo, one of the most chaotic cities in the world, there is a shortage of infrastructure to the assist their mobility. This is compounded by the lack of rights, poor health care and social marginalization. Mazen, handicapped since the age of 3, was inspired to get involved in political activism, before the revolution.
00:44 – 01:39 interview : presentation and problems of handicapped people in Egypt
“I am Mazen Hamza, I am 26 years old. I was born in 1987 in Iraq. I came in Egypt during the First Gulf War. I contracted the polio when I was three years old because of the vaccination. ”
“The problems that handicapped people suffer here in Egypt have been the reason why I decided to enter political activism, in order to send a message to the entire world, that handicapped people have to be integrated into society. We have problems in all aspects, in transportation, in education, in work, in housing, in airplanes, and mostly in the treatment we received by the government. I mean the government does not know how to treat handicapped people.”
01:40 – 02:03 political activism VO 6th of April / sit-in of 6th of April in front of the Ministry of Interior
Mazen became a political activist in February 2011 when he joined the 6th of April movement, the most active civil rights movements in Egypt. He first participated in debates, demonstrations and sit-ins.
In November 2012, during the clash with Security Forces and the Military Government, Mazen lost his close friend Gika, a fellow activist. This inspired him to begin a campaign of peaceful activism through symbolic demonstrations.
02:04- 02:47 Interview talk about gika / inside Gika's family house
“The death of Gika influenced us a lot. He was a boy that put a beautiful energy within us. Climbing the Cheope Pyramid has been only the beginning of many activities in urban, historical and religious places. We started by climbing the pyramid and it has had a lot of success, we heard good feedback from the people. I am not speaking about the public’s opinion, but from the other activists.”
02:48- 03:18 VO actions: Saint Catherine
Three months ago, Mazen completed the first of his demonstrations, climbing the Haram Cheope, the great pyramid of Giza. Then, on April 6, for the seventh anniversary of the movement, he climbed the 1586 m of Mount Sinai including the 750 “stairs of penitence”. In the Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions, Mount Sinai is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Overcoming his physical limitations, Mazen reached the summit in order to raise awareness for the disabled population and to remember those who died for human rights in Egypt.
03:18- 05:12 climbing St Cathrine, reaching the summit
05:12- 05: 27 interview St. Cathrine
“I would like the world to be aware of what’s going on in Egypt. For this reason I climbed St Catherine mountain, where Moses spoke with his God, to bring his speech all around the world, and I am doing the same thing to make people care about the handicapped women, children, and society and in general human rights.”
05: 28 Mazen Screaming the name of “Gika”.
Other text (Arabic translation):
“When I found out that there were young people ready for revolution, I joined them for months to take down the regime, and change the system. After two years I feel that nothing has changed. We have a new president, but the same system, so I tried to be different.
I started to work with the movement by participating in demonstrations and other activities. When I found out about the 6th of April movement, I joined it immediately. I joined the movement on the anniversary of the clashes of Mohammed Mahmud. In the Moquattam group, I was just an activist, but after I became responsible for social policies. I joined many events, especially for handicapped people’s rights.”
I attend a lot of conference to spread their voices everywhere, and to raise awareness of the problems of disabled people.
I tried to see the system separately from religious or historic dogma. I would like the world to be aware of what’s going on in Egypt. For this reason I climbed St Catherine mountain, where Moses spoke with his God, to bring his speech all around the world. And I am doing the same thing to make people care about the handicapped, women, children, and society and in general human rights,
We have a problem with the system. Politicians don’t listen to our demands, but we will make them listen and change their policies to how young people want them.
I am a citizen who sees that people will soon organize themselves to bring a real change. Tomorrow will be better, but now we still need to spend a lot of energy, even if we already spent a lot. That’s why we are climbing St. Catherine mountain, we already climbed 2350 meters and we only have to climb 750 stairs. That is the fight with myself against the system and the entire world, and I will do more, or my efforts will be vane.