The memory of the Egyptian revolution is the only weapon we have left

Source: The Guardian Unlimited

One of the Tahrir Square protesters looks back on how the country has changed, five years after the fall of Mubarak

I didn’t take my camera out with me the night Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. I stood in Tahrir Square among tens of thousands of Egyptians and told myself I would enjoy the moment, I would not divide myself from the night’s magical reality with a lens.

I had filmed up until then because it was my job, because history must be recorded, because an image can change the world, because everyone had to contribute somehow to the revolution.

But that night the camera stayed at home. History had happened, the world was changing before our eyes.

Fireworks filled the sky and a chant rose up: “Raise your head up, you’re Egyptian”. These were the only words I tweeted that night, so enamoured was I with the newness of the idea. We had won the information war and a new future was being born all around us.

For years afterwards we wrote and argued in a battle over the future. We were naive, no doubt, but the whole world was naive with us, willing us forward – the wondrous possibilities of the Arab Spring, the canary going deeper into the mine.

For years, images and words had the power to move the street. The road was revolution and all we knew was that it led somewhere new, that finally an alternative to the status quo could be imagined.

Tahrir Square was a spectacle and for a moment it froze the country, the world even, and history was reborn. The police were vanquished from the streets and the city was ours.

The revolutionists busied themselves with ideas about borderless futures and public ownership and crowd-sourced constitutions. Time Magazine declared the Protestor their Person of the Year.

But the power of the spectacle faded, the urgency of revolution grew weaker, our enemies regrouped and the elites prepared for elections as we clung ever more to the vanishing unknown.

I moved to Egypt looking for my Spanish Revolution, and in the end, I found it. History is cyclical.

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