I first met Ali mid-2011, while he was filming for the Canadian press, his country of origin, a demonstration in the streets of Cairo. He was a skilled photo-journalist, but for him, this was entirely secondary. His work as a freelancer was nothing but means of survival, enabling his sustenance to be an independent political activist in the revolution.
Ali was above all an internationalist. As soon as he knew I was Brazilian, he told me about when he came to São Paulo, in 2008. He did so supposedly to improve his Portuguese, the native language of his mother, born in Portugal. As soon as he arrived, he got in contact with the workers movement, landless peasants, and the Front of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He took part in meetings of the Movement Palestine for All (MOPAT), attended workers demonstrations, enjoyed Spring break parties in the University of São Paulo. He even jumped over bonfires in traditional peasants parties. This is whom Ali was, a life loving revolutionary.
In Brazil, together with MOPAT, he battled sectors of the Palestinian movement who opposed BDS campaigns against Israel. Back then, few people supported boycotting the Zionist state. Ali was one of them.
We quickly became close friends. His love for Brazil and passion for Sambaquickened our friendship. He was the only person with whom I could talk Portuguese in Cairo. When I had no place to sleep, at the peak of the streets clashes in Egypt, Ali received me with open arms in his apartment. It was a small flat in Mohammad Mahmoud street, somewhere between the Ministry of Interior, and Tahrir square, the center of the revolution. That small apartment had a big problem.It’s window, which overlooked main confrontations of the revolutionaries with the army, was constantly bombarded by tear gas. More often than one night, we would be startled woken-up amidst gas attacks. When the shock passed, we would laugh over it.
I would not hesitate to say that Ali took part in all the main battles of the Egyptian revolution. He brilliantly combined his journalism with his activism, participating enthusiastically in small independent media collectives that sprung up during the uprising.
Like all of those who were active in Cairo, Ali was radicalized by the Arab revolutions in their totality, especially by the massacres that took place, and continue to, in Syria. When the Syrian Revolution gained elements of an open civil war, he chose to go to Aleppo. We hadn’t seen each other since more than a year.
In Northern Syria, along with photographing the revolution, Ali joined the civil defense force of the Local Council of Hadiriya, a neighborhood in Aleppo controlled by the revolutionaries. Working as part of a rescue team, he attempted, with the very little resources, to save whatever remains of the lives not taken by Assad’s barrel bombs.
Ali died together with another nine revolutionaries amidst a rescue operation. The Syrian dictatorship launched two barrel bombs from a helicopter on the ambulance crew. His heroic death needn’t be elaborate in futile words. There is also no need to emphasize the barbaric brutality of the murderous dictatorship that killed him, and wide sectors of the world left whom, with an alarming degree of imbecility, continue to support Bashar Al Assad.
The memory, struggle, history, of our fellow fighter will not be forgotten. His death was will not be in vain. His struggle continues through the Syrian revolution, internationalism, and the every day resistance of the Arab youth and workers.
Ali Moustafa, Presente!