Live Blog: Ahmed Salah, Egyptian Activist Gives Talk on Revolution

5:53 Salah says Americans writing to their representatives in Congress should ask that the American government stop allowing the Egyptian military’s money into the United States.

5:51 “You can do a lot,” Salah tells students in closing. “Politicians need to be reelected…if you write emails to your representatives in the Congress, in the White House, this may work.” Salah says American writing to their representatives should outline concrete steps for change in Egypt.

5:51 Applause at the end of Mohamed’s speech.

5:50 Many of the people she recruited as part of her petition continue to be active in the cause of the revolution, says Mohamed.

5:46 After the initial protests, Mohamed carried a picture of a man killed during the actions. ”This could be your brother, this could be your son,” she would tell people to encourage them to sign her petition. She would give them her phone number and email, encouraging them to communicate with her later.

5:43 Mohamed says the revolution has unseated Mubarak, but yet changed the political order in Egypt.

5:42 Mohamed continues: ”We have fear, very strange case of fear. In a sense, on January 25th, that fear was killed inside…we were singing, ‘Raise your head up, you’re Egyptian.’”

5:39 Before the revolution, Mohamed spread fliers and organized meetings to let unemployed Egyptians know they have a right to work. This was part of an indirect way to encourage broader political activism.

5:37 Mohamed notes how demographically diverse protesters can be: ”This is not a Facebook revolution. The people in the streets are sometimes over eighty years of age…in the cold and rain.”

5:35 Mohamed describes her appeal to Egyptians to join the revolution: ”We are your children! We are your brothers and sisters! We are doing this for you!”

5:34 Mohamed continues to respond to Lakey, through Salah’s translation: “Every time a martyr falls, it creates a wave in the streets which causes hundreds more to come down for justice.”

5:30 Salah translates Mohamed’s response to a question from George Lakey: Protesters have faced physical violence and chemical weapons, some of which are made in the United States. At other times, protesters have received poisoned food. ”Despite all this the Egyptian Revolution, since January 25th, has remained nonviolent.”

5:29 Karima Mohamed is taking the podium. Salah says she is called “the cover girl,” because her visible enthusiasm during protests often attracts the attention of photographers.

5:27 Propaganda against activists, says Salah, is aimed to convince ”the Sofa Party” (the majority of Egyptians, who were not active in protests) that activists are just “kids”.

5:26 The revolution continues, because the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces continues to try to monopolize power, says Salah.

5:24 When Salah returned to the street protests, he was hit by a rubber bullet in the head–and he still has the bullet to prove it.

5:23 He visited a hospital to try to have surgery on his nose. They were low on supplies, and eventually he had his operation without anesthesia.

5:21 Salah got out of prison at January 28, nose smashed, face bloodied, and pockets emptied. He didn’t recognize his surroundings and had to walk home. The streets were empty save for military forces.

5:18 Salah was arrested by policemen in the streets. ”You shut up…a fellow police officer was killed, and we are evening the score now,” explained one, when Salah asked why they were shooting at protesters. He said the crowds were non-violent, and that they could feel free to arrest him if he was wrong. They arrested and beat him.

5:16 “When we got to Tahrir, I started crying. Not from the tear gas.”

5:15 At first he didn’t know where to go to find the protesters. But when he went outside, he discovered the revolution had already spread to his neighborhood. “We are doing this for you–come and join us!” he shouted to friends and families in neighboring homes.

5:13 “I couldn’t sleep all night, until it was morning when I fell asleep,” says Salah of the night before January 25th. He was woken abruptly by an impassioned call from a friend: “Protests everywhere! Civil disobedience everywhere! The streets are closed!”

5:11 To convince ultras to mobilize for his political cause, Salah told ultras supporting opposing soccer clubs that their rivals were already supporting the revolution, and that they would look weak if they did not also protest.

5:08 Salah says the ultras, clubs of soccer fans, were an important part of resistance to Egyptian security forces from the beginning, because they had an existing organization.

5:05 Rather than begin protests in large places, then, Salah says the first protests were in back alleys and smaller streets. As the crowds wound through the smaller streets, they attracted more people, and moved to larger avenues.

5:02 Salah’s solution to convincing volunteers to work on the ground:”Maybe we can solve the problem of people not being in the street, by giving the illusion there are already people in the street.”

5:00 Salah says that after January 28–when the government switched off internet access–online activists shifted from simply reporting and observing the revolution to taking to the streets themselves.

4:57  Salah on the reaction to his calls for a revolution against Mubarak’s regime: “What can we do to challenge this? How many do you think will come out?”

4:56 In the lead up to January 25th, Salah and his colleagues spoke to people in the neighborhoods of Cairo. At first, they found only one student admitted he had heard about the planned actions.

4:54 The activists immediate plan was simply to protest outside ministry buildings. At the time, it was not inevitable that the protests would lead to revolution.

4:50 Salah says there are more people attending his lecture today than there were in the core group of activists who first planned the January 2011 protests against the police.

4:48 When Salah decided to try to mobilize the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, he initially met with resistance. Coptic Christians, he says, at first responded to government propaganda framing activists as anti-Coptic. The government has attempted to blame sectarianism for ongoing violence.

4:44 ”There have been many groups to make an impossible movement possible,” says Salah of the coalition behind the revolution which began in 2011.

4:42 In 2008, Salah spoke to an American ambassador about his plans to organize a revolution against Mubarak. At the time, the ambassador called such a revolution “highly improbable, completely unrealistic.”

4:39 Salah says in 2003, the Egyptian Front for Change attempted to mobilize resistance against Hosni Mubarak, but the world’s attention was focused on the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

4:38 ”When things happen in Egypt, they have an impact throughout the Arab world. And these changes could be positive, or they could be negative,” says Salah.

4:37 Salah begins with an account of Egypt’s cultural and political history. He says since the mid-1970s development in Egypt has declined.

4:30 Ahmed Salah and Karima Mohamed, Egyptian activists who played a key role in the January 2011 protests , have just taken the floor.


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