The Egyptian revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 can still succeed, says Alaa Al Aswanyby Sameer Rahim / February 2, 2015 / Leave a comment
In 2006 the Egyptian novelist Alaa Al Aswany published The Yacoubian Building, which followed the lives of Cairo residents struggling under the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. It was a bestseller in Egypt and became a successful film. It was translated into multiple languages and worldwide sold one million copies. On 25h January 2011, Al Aswany joined the anti-Mubarak protestors in Tahrir Square, and has been a keen observer and participant in the Egyptian revolution—his newspaper columns from the last four years have just been published in English. Prospect Books Editor Sameer Rahim spoke to Al Aswany about why even though censorship is worse now than it was under Mubarak, he still believes history is on the side of Egypt’s revolution.
SR: Let me take you back to Tahrir Square in 2011. What was it like being involved in the protests?
AA: It was a great moment in my life. I’m very proud I had the opportunity of participating in our revolution. I became another person. I learned many things including the meaning of the term “the people.” I had used it many times before in my writings, but this was the first time I understood its real meaning.
SR: Your novel The Yacoubian Building shows the pressures exerted on all levels of Egyptian society. Do you feel it predicted the revolution?
AA: I’m probably not the right person to answer that question, but many critics have said there was a kind of vision in the novel that pointed to a turning point or revolution in Egypt. From 2008, I have given interviews saying that there would be a big change in Egypt that would surprise everybody. Why did I feel that? Because I knew the people were suffering and that at some point there would be a revolt.
SR: In your new collection of newspaper articles, Democracy is the Answer, you write that “Dictatorship spreads like cancer from the Presidential Palace through the whole of society”. What do you mean by that?
AA: Dictatorship is not only a problem…