Karim Mohamed Mohamed Abdel Salaam Banouna
Karim Banouna was a communications engineer, a father of two: Omar and Maryam. He took part in the January 25th Revolution since it began along with many others demanding the overthrow of the regime. When He arrived at Tahrir Square he decided not to leave until the demands of protesters were met. He spent every night in Tahrir, leaving his two children at his family’s house.
He spent the night of February 2, 2011, (Battle of the Camels) in the Square among the other protesters. He printed and distributed fliers, calling for peace and not violence—to respond with violence when being assaulted by supporters of the regime and to merely prevent them from entering the Square. He was sleep deprived and went with a friend for Fajr prayer and then having breakfast together. They then set out to the Square to distribute dates to the protesters when clashes erupted one again. Karim stood at the front defending the Square and next to him was his lifelong friend, Yasser. A stray bullet hit him in the chest making him a martyr of the Revolution.
Karim was not politically active, he was an ordinary citizen, who went out looking for freedom. He went out searching for a new future for his children that would guarantee them a life of dignity without offense or torture at police stations, without governmental corruption or forged elections, according to his widow who used to wait for his call every evening where he would tell her the details of the protest, how he spent his night, what he chanted, and what he signs he carried that day.
In an interview after his death, his father said: “Karim was not just his name, he embodied generosity and kindess. He didn’t hold anything back from anyone if they were want for anything. Even as a child and in his youth, if he had a toy he would gift it to his friend if he felt his friend wanted it.”
Karim prepared for the January 25th protests a month in advance and on Facebook he would call the masses of youth to go out and protest, to stop being passive.
His mother said: “The moment Mubarak had stepped down brought me to tears, as if Karim had only just died at that moment. I cried in fear, I cried feeling that his life hadn’t gone in vain… I missed you Karim, I missed you my dear. Everyday I would wait to see you in my dreams and you do not come. Please come see me in my dreams and reassure me and tell me how you’ve been doing. I write letters to you every day and I talk to you as if you’re right here in front of my eyes. Please have joy, Karim. What you wanted was accomplished and Egypt is going to be better. May Allah bless your kids, they will get to live in a better country because of you. Your son Omar, every time he sees your photo he would chant: My dad kimo… o’ my country, o’ my country… long live Egypt.”
His widow, Sarah Ibrahim Yusri, says their marriage was an arranged marriage (salon room marriage), but she became attached to him. She felt the extent of Allah’s love in blessing her with this compassionate, quiet natured, and kind-hearted husband. He was religious, forgiving and loving. His coworkers described him as someone with inner peace. He was the youngest of his siblings, the closest of them to their father. He was independent as he used to work during his studies. Karim had asked for Sarah’s hand in marriage at the age of 23. He gave her an engagement jewelry set that he has bought with his own money. He also contributed in preparing and furnishing the house. He had a positive attitude, he refused to criticize for the sake of criticism, but rather believed in providing advice for those who would do wrong. He didn’t like arguing, but rather attempted to reconcile between the different opinions and to bring the different points of view closer together. He was not into politics, did not belong to any party, but he considered silence as a contribution to injustice and believed in the importance of saying the truth in the face of an oppressive authority. He believed that the regime was the one sprouting sectarian tension, creating a division between Muslims and Christians. On the night of the 25th of January, he went to the Square and stayed there until midnight, and when violence against protesters began and the throwing of tear gas, a Christian owner of a cell phone store helped hide him and insisted on paying for his taxi ride home.
We were afraid of taking him to the hospital in the fear of him being arrested. He waited in the house on Wednesday and Thursday, but he insisted on going out once more on the Friday of Rage with his brother. The phone companies were down so there weren’t any news until some of the protesters brought him home in a severe state. He didn’t speak a word until he passed away due to internal bleeding caused by a gunshot wound.
On the day he had died he wrote on Facebook: “And even when the day of Resurrection is only an instant away, when all of life come to an end, even then, people will cease to stop working and looking up to the future. Whomever has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.”
Karim started a personal project that aims to deliver teaching through technological means, like an ipad, which he was one of the first people to bring into Egypt. He developed a program that includes a curriculum that enables communication between students and teachers at school.
Yasser Assad, his friend who was next to him when he was hit, tells about him: “Karim was a very religious and kind natured person. He was one of the people who frequented the mosque. His heart was attached to it and keen on frequenting it.”
Yasser adds: “He has shown some amusingly odd attitudes at the Square: when he knew the thugs were nearing, he and his wife prepared ‘food bags’ for those thugs. His philosophy in this matter was that he -the thug- instead of receiving 50 pounds to beat and kill the people of his own country, it’s best if he took a bag, like the bags of Ramadan, but without committing those crimes. He viewed those thugs as people ‘in need’, and that their need is what led him to do this.
On the Friday of the 28th of January when they were sitting at the mosque before the prayer, they prepared to go out and protest afterward. He had insisted on performing a funeral prayer on the souls of the martyrs of Suez. We were hesitant considering the safety risk that this may put us in, but Karim was persistent on performing the prayer and he risked safety in the face of winning for the sake of the rights of the martyrs.”
Omar Mokhtar, Karim’s boss, says: “Karim was religious beyond limits. He was keen on his prayers especially in the mosque, to the point that even at work he used to step out of the building to pray in the mosque in front of the company. He used to meet everyone, especially his coworkers with a bright smiling face and extreme friendliness. His interactions, in general, was never void of kindness.
Banouna was also always very humble and flexible in his opinions. He used to change his position if it was proven to be in the wrong.” He adds: “Karim was responsible for a whole work team and in his approach, his ways of fully cooperating with them was evident, as he used to communicate with them and listen to their opinions. He was responsible for ‘difficult tasks’ due to his extreme proficiency, in addition, he was a very ‘mailable’ person. He also used to assign a big portion of his time to perform his prayers and rituals, in addition to always talking to his coworkers about obedience to the Lord.
On the 2nd of February, he had passed in the evening after Al-Isha Prayer, after going to see his father and reading Qur’an with his wife. A street in Al-Mokattam was named martyr Karim Banouna in his honor.