Interview With Khaled Elshami*
"Post Mubarak Egypt: Historic Changes and Challenges"
On 25 January 2011—Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. In a country where emergency law has been in place for 30 years along with the President such scenes were unprecedented.
In what is now a historic moment in history, Egypt’s youth used the New Media to form a "Day of Wrath" of anti-government demonstrations inspired by the downfall of Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali only a day earlier on January 14.
For the next three weeks Tahrir Square in Egypt’s Capital Cairo became the focal point of the world’s attention, as the people of Egypt rose to a unanimous revolt against a regime that had for too long stripped them of democracy, human rights and freedom of speech.
For millions of Egyptians what took place on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and all over the streets of their country was an unimaginable dream; a people defying their (US backed and supported) dictator with nothing but their bodies, willing to die for a freedom that most of the youth had never even known.
For as long as Mubarak was in power many in Egypt were secretly angered by his corrupt rule but remained silent out of the fear that his dictatorship had instilled in them. Their silence combined with Mubarak’s corruption, theft of billions of dollars from the country’s wealth, unquestionable support for Israel and the closing of the Rafah border humiliated the Egyptian people in the region, and at the time many renowned political analysts proclaimed that Egyptians were ‘too accustomed and afraid to defy their government’.
Few Egyptian voices in defiance of Mubarak were heard during his rule. Those who refused to be silenced did so at the determent of their own safety.
Opposition groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Kiefya (Arabic for Enough!) spent more time being tortured in jails than campaigning for freedom. But though their voices were few and far between, it now appears that they had reached the hearts and minds of many Egyptians, who had listened to their cry for freedom but were too afraid to join in.
It was particularly difficult for journalists in Egypt whose job description commands that they report to their readers what is taking place in their country. Journalism in Egypt under the former dictatorship became nothing more than a sound bite, an extension of government propaganda.
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* Published in the Fifth Issue of Political Reflection Magazine (PR).