Thursday, January 12, 2012

New series: Looking back at Egypt's revolution

One year ago today I wrote one of my favorite blog posts – Spiced tea, social norms, and me. One year ago today, no one was talking about politics. I, the young foreign journalist, was the one explaining to my Egyptian friends the requirements to run for president and what, exactly, the Emergency Law said.

One year ago, it would have been unthinkable to sit in a trendy Cairo café and find BBC Arabic on the television.

It’s amazing how much can change in a year.

Outwardly, it’s easy to overlook the changes. In many ways, things seem to be as they always were. The traffic is as bad as ever, young people still have to go to school and take exams, there’s still sexual harassment on the streets. The blog post I wrote last year about social norms I could write again today.

Yet many things have changed. There are Egyptian flags everywhere, every Egyptian knew when parliamentary elections were happening, and the cover of state-run Al-Ahram newspaper doesn’t boast a picture of three-decade ruler Hosni Mubarak on the front page every morning.

A year ago, the only people talking about a ‘revolution’ were those watching Tunisia and the handful of Egyptians who, some for months and others for decades, had been trying to bring political and social change to Egypt.

Among them were the April 6 Youth Movement, the Kefaya Movement, Sheyfenkom, and We Are All Khaled Said. There were individuals, as well – popular public figure Gameela Ismail, journalist Hossam al-Hamalawy, and young activists such as Asmaa Mahfouz, Israa Abdelfattah, and Ahmed Maher.

Now there are a thousand more names: Wael Ghonim, Ramy Essam, Alaa Abdel Fattah (a long-time activist, but only recently well-known), Amr Hamzawy.

On January 25, 2011 I stood in Tahrir Square with Hamalawy. He told me he always knew there would be a revolution.

Over the next few weeks, I intend to post a series looking back on the revolution, its aftermath, and its future. Whether you're looking for more insight into the events surrounding the revolution, a different perspective, or just want to revisit those earth-shaking 18 days, I will show you Egypt's revolution through my eyes.

I will share with you how I crossed paths with names both big and small – Ayman Nour, Mohamed el-Baradei, and many others. Look forward to text, pictures, video, and sound bites of Egypt's January 25 Revolution.

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