Hearing Voices from NPR®
131 Voices from Tahrir: Portrait of a Revolution
Host: Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch
Airs week of: 2012-01-25
“Voices from Tahrir” (52:00 mp3):
Bread, Freedom, and Human Dignity:
January 25, 2011. One year ago, a revolution began in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. For the next eighteen days, millions of Egyptians across the country would demonstrate in the streets, demanding the end of their 30-year dictatorship. They were inspired by Tunisians, whose protests, that same month, had forced out the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Now it was time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go.
A few weeks after the protests, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch interviewed some of the organizers of the January uprising: union leaders, civil rights workers, young social media activists, family members of of murdered protestors, and mothers who brought their kids to Tahrir to clean after the protests.. These Human Rights Watch interviews provide a rare, eyewitness account of a revolution, told by the Egyptian people, the activists, human rights defenders, and bloggers who persevered during those eighteen days.
The hour features recordings made in the square by reporters and citizen jounalists from around the world, including Daniel Finnan of Radio France Internationale, Al Jazeera, Egypt Daily News, Ramy Roof, and Matthew Cassel of Just Image.org.
Music: “Erhal (Leave)” and “Laugh, Revolution” by Ramy Essam; “Ezzay? (Why?)” by Mohamed Mounir and “Gomaa Hayran (Uncertain Friday)” by Joseph & James Tawadros
from the collection Our Dreams Are Our Weapons – Soundtracks of the Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Mix: Robin Wise of Sound Imagery.
Tahrir Revolutionaries by Platon
The voices from Tahrir in this hour are:
Gasser Abd El Razek, 42: Human rights advocate, member of the board of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and country director for Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance Egypt.
Alaa Al Aswany, 53: Egyptian writer born in 1957, author of the acclaimed novel The Yacoubian Building, and influential news columnist. Founding member of the political opposition movement Kefaya (“Enough”). He is also a practicing dentist.
Sarrah Abdel Rahman, 23: Social media activist; creates of the popular “Sarrah”s World” series of YouTube commentaries; tweets, and aspires to be a television producer/journalist.
Sondos Shabayek, 25: Egyptian citizen journalist who participated in the Tahrir Square protests.
Tarek Shalaby, 26: Egyptian freelance web designer, social media activist and participant in the Tahrir Square protests. Message from Tarek’s website http://www.tarekshalaby.com/about/: “The Internet is power to the people. For the first time in history, everyone has the chance to express his or her thoughts and feelings, and reach out and learn from any others. It is bigger than any government or organization can handle, and there’s no way of stopping it.”
Nawal El Saadawi, 80: Dr El Saadawi is an Egyptian writer, veteran women’s rights advocate, psychiatrist and author of more than forty fiction and non-fiction books, many of which address the persecution of Arab women and subjects as female genital mutilation (which was ultimately banned in Egypt in 2008) and prostitution. In 1982, she founded the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association. In 1981 she was imprisoned after being charged with “political offenses.” She wrote her Memoirs From the Women’s Prison on a roll of toilet paper with an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her cell by an imprisoned young prostitute.
Jawad Nabulsi, 29: Wounded in the eye with a lead pellet while protesting near the Intercontinental hotel in Cairo on January 28. He works as a volunteer in organizations that help the poor and needy in Egypt. A Facebook page set up in his honor, called “We are all Jawad Nabulsi,” notes his selflessness after being injured: “While looking for a hospital to be treated for 10 hours, he listed down the names of others that needed to be treated although he himself needed someone to help him.”
Mahmood Salim (Sandmonkey), 29: Irreverent Egyptian blogger, best known by his nickname, “Sandmonkey.” Salim was arrested and beaten but continued blogging and tweeting throughout the Tahrir street protests.
Mona Seif, 25: Egyptian blogger and youth activist who participated in the Tahrir Square protests; daughter of veteran activist and lawyer Ahmed Seif.
Gigi Ibrahim, 24: Egyptian journalist, blogger and socialist activist. Gigi was a one-woman wire service for on-the-ground reports of violence against protesters. Featured on the cover of Time magazine (issue dated February 28, 2011) as a member of “the Generation Changing the World” in the Middle East: http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20110228,00.html
Sally Moore, 33: A activist, psychiatrist and feminist, Sally Moore is a Coptic Christian who with Muslim Brotherhood youth leader Mohammad Abbas drafted a “birth certificate of a free Egypt” shortly after Mubarak’s resignation on February 11.
Mohammed Abbas, 26: Key leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth movement who worked closely with secular counterparts and the April 6 movement in planning and executing protests in Tahrir Square.
Hossam Bahgat, 31: Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which he founded in 2002. Litigator for cutting-edge rights issues including for minority rights and personal freedoms. Recipient of Human Rights Watch’s 2010 Alison Des Forges Defender Award, Bahgat has long played a prominent role in exposing human rights violations in Egypt, including the government’s failure to prosecute sectarian violence against Coptic Christians. On March 15, he and other Egyptian activists met with Hillary Clinton in Cairo.
Heba Morayef (show host), 30: Egyptian Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, covering Egypt and Libya. Heba was in the middle of the demonstrations and violence during the Tahrir protests. By visiting hospitals and morgues, she researched and documented the civilian death toll from government attacks and sniper fire. That figure became the indispensable count for global media as Mubarak teetered in power. While monitoring violence in the protests, she wrote these two op-eds: “The View From Liberation Square, Int. Herald Tribune, 1/28/11, “Tahrir Square Voices Will Never Be Silenced,” The Times, 2/11/11.
PRX: Voices from Tahrir
Human Rights Watch multimedia: Egypt’s Transformers
Human Rights Watch audio: Voices from Tahrir: The Sound of a Revolution
The New Yorker multimedia: Pictures from a Revolution