Rising Voices has held a special relationship with Egypt because of the three grantee projects that we have been supporting in that country. The projects Exploring Taboos, Mokattam Blog Tales, and Women of Minya Day by Day had been making preparations to continue their training workshops after the beginning of the new year. However, those plans were forced to be suspended as events started to unfold in Egypt and which eventually led to the resignation of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The uncertainty of those tense weeks was felt in the words and images shared by those experiencing the situation firsthand. The information available online was a constant reminder of how citizen media can make the world seem like a smaller place by bringing the perspectives of Egyptians to one's computer screens. For those of us who have gotten to know those individuals associated with the Rising Voices in Egypt projects through their work, the information, thoughts, experiences, and feelings expressed by them helped make their revolution much more personal. Here we'll take a look at some of the content created during those historic weeks.
This podcast interview recorded with Nesma Gewily, the coordinator of the Mokattam Blog Tales, demonstrates how seeing such civic participation can be quite moving for a proud Egyptian. The day after the interview was recorded, the Egyptian government cut off the internet making this information much more scarce. (Click on image for the Soundcloud audio file).
On her blog At Brownie's, Fatma Emam, one of the coordinators of the Exploring Taboos project, expressed her inner struggle whether or not to join the protests:
I was home, with my fear eating me alive and i think I have to admit that I never attended a protest, not or any political reason, but the fear was the only reason I even did not join the front of defending Egyptian protesters , that my only experience in it was stressful. So I decided that I will enjoy my comfortable home and just help in spreading the word, but everyday I was thinking that I will regret it and this historical moment will by pass me. I was struggling in the middle of fear and refusal of missing the moment. Everyday I postponed I said tomorrow I will go.
Until I reached a moment that I thought it is critical, I went out of home secretly at 8 am while family was sleeping and I went to Hisham Mubarak law center , then to Tahrir square. It was Tuesday 1 of February, it was phenomenal , some reports said the protesters were million, I was cracking from the inside, the crowd, the chants and the huge signs. I was very self conscious, I found it too hard to unite with the masses.
Ramy Raoof, another coordinator of the Exploring Taboos project, was one of the most important sources of information on the ground during the revolution. He used several platforms to disseminate first-hand information, such as his Twitter account (@ramyraoof), which has nearly 20,000 followers. In addition, he shot video and streamed live from the streets of Cairo. This video shows “police, anti-riots and plainclothes agents throwing tear gas and fire dumdum bullets on the demonstrators in Imbaba, Cairo on Friday 28 January.”
His Flickr account also contained images of the protests, as well as the celebration following the announcement that Mubarak would step down.
Finally, Ahmed Awadalla (@3awadalla), a participant in the Exploring Taboos project, used his Twitter account to share stories of how the revolution was experienced at home. He shares this anecdote:
my worried #mother says proudly to visitors today that I participated in #Jan25 Revolution! a true shift of home politics!