Page 45 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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town yesterday?”
“I was minding my own business.
And so should you.”
Marwan turned and walked back
across the street and disappeared into
his shop.
Ahmed’s eyes followed him. He
shook his head and turned back into
his store.
Marches started to become a regu-
lar occurrence, and they steadily grew
in size. That made Marwan uncom-
fortable. Sometimes they went past
without Ahmed. But most of the time,
Marwan would spot him in the crowd.
Marwan had never been one to
watch the news. But he started doing
so, and it concerned him. He heard a
lot more worrying talk on the street,
too. People were getting bolder in
their complaints about the regime, it
seemed to Marwan. And that couldn’t
end well.
He also noticed more policemen on
the streets. And he heard more ru-
mors about arrests and interrogations.
But none of that seemed to quell the
unrest. There weren’t enough jobs,
and people were sick of suffering qui-
etly. On his way home from work,
Marwan sometimes saw policemen
manhandling groups of young men,
handcuffing them and throwing them
into Fords. Marwan wasn’t sure what
for, but it bothered him.
Marwan never missed Friday
prayers. He wasn’t particularly reli-
gious, but he was a man who honored
his obligations. The sermons were be-
coming more alarming, he thought.
The prayers were growing more fer-
vent. The general atmosphere was be-
coming more electric — and not in a
good way, in Marwan’s estimation.
On a subsequent Wednesday, three
men entered Marwan’s garage. “Get
up!” they demanded, as Marwan
worked in the pit. Marwan slowly
climbed out.
“Can I help you?”
“Your friend, Ahmed,” they charg-
ed. “What do you know about what
he’s been doing?”
“Well,” answered Marwan, “He
runs the shop across the street be-
tween 9 and 5. What he does on his
own time isn’t my business.”
One of the men approached Mar-
wan, grabbed him by the throat and
shoved him against the wall.
“That’s not what I’m talking
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45
“They don’t have any
more right to rule us than
we have to rule them,”
Ahmed exclaimed.