Naqib's Daughter

Naqib's Daughter
North Carolina,
November 11
Born and raised in Egypt, educated at London University, immigrated to the United States in the eighties. Author of two novels, The Cairo House, about growing up in a political family in Nasser's Egypt, and The Naqib's Daughter, about Bonaparte's occupation of Egypt in 1798. A collection of short stories, Love is Like Water, addresses in part Arab Americans post 9/11. Also published nonfiction on Islam, Egypt, women in Muslim societies, and terrorism. Have taught at university and in journalism. An editor of South Writ Large, an online magazine of stories, arts and ideas from the Global and US Souths.


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JANUARY 26, 2012 10:08AM

Tahrir a Year Later: What has changed?

Rate: 9 Flag

Tahrir Anniversary poster of martyr 

Yesterday, as I walked to Tahrir Square along the Kasr el-Nil Bridge, I met friends and acquaintances along the way, the same people who, like me, had been so moved by the revolution a year ago, and who had shunned the ugly confrontations in Tahrir since the divisiveness and the violence and the crackdowns started. There were so many people I recognized, famous writers, major businessmen, doctors, professors. An immense crowd, at least as big as February 4th, and the same spirit: determined but cheerful and peaceful. Men, women and children, a diverse crowd, from all walks of life, from the most privileged to the most underprivileged; many secular young liberals, many boys and girls of the original Face Book crowd. There was no violence, and no harassment of women, in spite of the dense crowd; in spite- or perhaps because- of the fact that there was nary a police or a military uniform in sight. The Muslim Brotherhood had announced it was taking charge of security, and apparently they were, but they kept a low profile; any checking of I.D.’s was rare and discreet.

As the afternoon wore on, the numbers swelled to outdo those of the heyday of the revolution. The main changes from a year ago were the chants of "Down with the rule of the Military!" instead of "Down with Mubarak!" Actually, the word used, "Askar," is closer to "Militia." There were huge posters of the martyrs of the military crackdown, and a gigantic obelisk with the names of the martyrs inscribed on it. Many of the protesters wore masks in the image of the martyrs, apparently inspired by the film Vendetta; one woman in a full face veil wore a mask of the cleric killed in the November protests. There were rumors that Baradei, the Nobel-Prize winning former presidential candidate, was about to make an appearance. 

So is Egypt’s revolution today just a case of : “The King is dead!” “Down with the new King!”?  One witty poster I saw a few weeks ago cynically proclaimed: “Down with the next president!”

But there have been real changes. The enthusiasm expressed at the ballot boxes, the excitement around the seating of the new parliament- even the 24-hour coverage of the parliamentary debates on TV, C-Span style- all add up to a sense of awe and pride in a new-found democracy, however flawed, however distorted by ignorance and illiteracy, however disappointing the election results to the liberal idealists who raised the flag of revolution in the first place. What’s changed in Egypt is the awareness of the possibility of change. “Yes we can.” “We’ve done it before, we can do it again.”



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A beautiful viewpoint... longing to go back to Cairo.
what a terrific first-hand accounting...
I wouldn't generalize about the supposed incompatibility of Islam and a free press on the basis of the jailing of a 100 journalists in Turkey. There are many regimes, far from Islamic or even Middle Eastern, which have a far more dismal record of repressing free press. Incidentally, under Mubarak, who was supported in the West as a bastion of secularism against the Islamic tide, prisons were filled with dissenters who had the temerity to criticize his regime. Don't let's forget that the original outrage that motivated the revolution of January 25 in Egypt was the arrest and torture to death of a 25-year-old blogger, Khaled Saeed, who criticized Mubarak online.
Oh my the price for freedom is long and dangerous. I do hope to get to Egypt some day may it resolve itself soon and be blessed with a new moon. Sending you and Egypt some...

★。/|\。★and I wish you Peace!
It's always better to hear from someone like you about what is really happening. Thanks for reporting (and writing it so well that it is a pleasurable read!)
You sound hopeful and optimistic. It's nice to hear that from someone who is actually living through the changes.
"Askar" (Arabic, origin) in Egyptian slang means, 'soldiers'--militia will be 'esaba'--it usually refers to the soldiers of the oppressive ruler. It is a protest against oppression by the army. It looks like the Egyptians don't want the army to substitute the police as the oppressive force.

Egypt is caught between two evil forces: the religious Muslim Brotherhood and the army supporting the oppressive regime of big money. I hope they find a third more democratic option. Egypt is a beautiful country and the people there are kind and funny. Good luck. R
Thank you so much for this post.
Not to quibble with such a positive comment, but 'esaba', as I hear it used in Egypt today, is a 'gang', like a gang of thieves. Thank you for wishing Egypt well, it will certainly need all the good karma it can get!
The beautifullness of Tahrir Square which is situated along the Kasr el-Nil Bridge are increased to a more amount over the year.I was become amoused by the change of the Tahrir Square as in the last year it was not so that.
Paradise Valley Show Appeal
The rain falls the street and slower and slower,bring me a little piece of winter, How beautiful is the white cute graceful flower, I catch her I crave her I keep her, but what if I can draw one of faces of her. Toilet Paper Coupons
Thank you so very much