11th February has never been the same again after the day I spent in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011. You might like to look out the post I wrote for my original blog: http://reemkelani.com/page_media_blog.asp
It was the most uplifting day, the day Hosni Mubarak was forced from office by the will of the Egyptian people. The days and weeks leading up to and following Mubarak’s departure were most assuredly the Egyptian people’s finest hour. My husband and I felt so privileged to be witnesses to history. In this clip, you can see and hear the very moment when news of Mubarak’s resignation reached Tahrir Square, as a giant roar swept around me:
The programme I wrote and presented for Radio 4 on the role of music in the revolution remains available on the BBC website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019fxjf
11 years later, it is tempting to ask what all the sacrifice was for? Aside from the obvious pariah states, Egypt has one of the worse records on human rights. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi emerged out of the shadows of the senior military in 2013 to force the elected president Mohammed Morsi to leave office. In the weeks that followed, Sisi oversaw the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of supporters of Morsi’s supporters in Rabaa square in Cairo. Since then, a level of tyranny and oppression has descended across Egypt, the like of which the country hasn’t seen for centuries.
So was it worth it? As an optimist and a believer, my answer is emphatically yes. No Egyptian leader will dare again to take the people for granted. For the present, that is no comfort to the thousands detained in Egypt’s prisons or the millions struggling to survive, however. I hope and long for the day when the lot of the people will get substantially better.
In his oppression of the Egyptian people, Sisi is supported by governments across the world, including, I regret to say, Britain, the US and the EU. But the system is failing and the country is regressing further, politically, economically and socially. The Egyptian people deserve so much better than this.