Revolution – SBS Insight


SBS Insight Forum “Monumental change is sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa.

Overview: “Powerful dictators are being toppled and long-entrenched regimes are under threat. Insight looks at the unfolding new order in the region and how democracy might work there. What do the people actually want … and what will they get?”

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:


The Revolution in Alexandria (visual timeline)

9 July 2010

These photos were taken on 9 July, a little over a month after the death of Khalid Saeed. My article on the aftermath was published the same day.

21 September 2010

In Alexandria\'s humid climate, protesters battle it out with Mubarak\'s security forces. Plain clothes police men are quite easy to identify.

10 October 2010

With time, Alexandria\'s youth became experienced in the art of flash protests, all coordinated via social media and mobile phones.

25 January 2011 (The Revolution)

Police Day was chosen for the day of the revolution. The protesters were given a much needed lease of life thanks to the deposing of the Tunisia\'s Ben-Ali ten days earlier.

28 January 2011

By this stage, Egypt\'s internet and cellular networks were cut off by the regime. But the momentum was already in full swing. The army is ordered onto the streets.

29 January 2011

Despite Mubarak sacking his cabinet, his refusal to step down incensed the people. For the first time in 30 years, the dictator appointed former spy chief Omar Sulleiman as vice-president. Alexandria\'s youth formed citizens committees to protect their neighborhoods following the withdrawal of the police force and the mass release of hardened prisoners

31 January 2011

With rapid dwindling internet access and non-existent cellular networks, Alexandrians are in effect cut off from their counterparts in Cairo. Fortunately, satellite TV was more or less still working.

1 February 2011

Following Mubarak\'s televised speech that he will not resign, clashes broke out in Alexandria between pro and anti-Mubarak demonstrators. This was an omen of what was to take place the next day in Tahrir Square on a dramatic scale in the \'Battle of the Camel\'.

4 February 2011

The eleventh day of unrest, and two days following the camel and horse charges in Tahrir Square which sealed the fate of Mubarak. Alexandrians come out in mass protests in the \"Day of Departure\"

6 February 2011

Communications is gradually restored, some banks are opening for a few hours. The regime entered talks with the opposition, but this reprieve was not to last long. Activist Wael Ghonim is released the next day, and his emotional display on TV gave a new lease of life to the protest movement.

11 February 2011

Spurned on by mass industrial strikes, and Mubarak\'s speech in which he refused to resign. Alexandrians took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands marching on the Summer palace of Mubarak. Just before evening, the vice-president announced the resignation of Mubarak.


Why a Democratic Egypt Should Trump all Fears


By Amro Ali:

It was Lenin who once said, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. After decades of stagnation under Mubarak, there could not have been a more fitting description for the events in Egypt of early 2011.

In 18 days, the Middle East experienced a geo-political earthquake. President Hosni Mubarak was successfully overthrown after 30 years in power. Yet what made the events spell-binding was the relative non-violent nature of the protestors, the all-inclusiveness, Muslim-Christian unity, and the communal spirit – an inspiration to the world. After the Pyramids, Tahrir Square became one of the most famous Cairo landmarks and was elevated to the hall of famous squares alongside Tiananmen Square.

After the January overthrow of Tunisia’s leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Middle East experts were appearing and proclaiming that the Mubarak regime would not follow the Tunisian path. Yet what so-called experts and intelligence services could not measure or foresee was the indomitable spirit of a downtrodden people. Once unleashed, people power kept gathering momentum at a formidable pace.

So, where to from here? Can Egypt handle its own version of democracy and put to rest the fears that have done the rounds on the news circuit? While the road ahead will be difficult, it is an absolute essential that a transition to democracy takes place and is supported by the international community. Continue reading “Why a Democratic Egypt Should Trump all Fears”


Defriending Mubarak – Egypt’s social media revolution


By Amro Ali:

In early 2007, while still a student at the ANU, I received a call from my younger relative in Alexandria, Egypt. Her words: “Are you on Facebook?”

Little did I know, some four years later, social media tools like Facebook would help drive passionate anti-government protests in a country that had been struggling to suppress politicised social media and its outcome on the streets of Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square and other cities in Egypt.

On 6 June 2010, my neighbour in Egypt Khalid Saeed was brutally killed at the hands of police, a tragedy about which I had written last year entitled “Egypt’s Collusion course with History”. In the wake of his death, his symbolism as martyr for anti-government sentiment flourished with the creation of the “We are all Khalid Saeed” Facebook group page whose members grew into the hundreds of thousands. Saeed’s symbolism was powerful; like the Iranian shot dead, Saeed was Egypt’s Neda Agha Soltan. Continue reading “Defriending Mubarak – Egypt’s social media revolution”


Egypt’s Collision Course With History


By Amro Ali:

In a bustling area of the 2,300 year-old Alexandria, Egypt, lies the middle class suburb of Cleopatra
Hammamat, meaning Cleopatra’s Baths, named after the legendary Cleopatra VII and where she once ruled. She was the last Queen Pharaoh who came to understand, albeit belatedly, that power can be vanquished at a heavy price; the rest is history. Today, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Cleopatra Hammamat is a beautiful, harmonious, and vibrant area – Muslim and Christian traders work side by side, men play their checkers in the coffee houses, soccer matches bring the streets to a standstill. And, despite the extremely difficult economic situation, Egyptians are still willing to express their renowned warm sense of humour at life’s challenges.

Cleopatra Hammamat (or Cleopatra for short) rarely made the headlines – until Sunday, June 6, when fate propelled it back onto the world map. Two plain-clothed policemen entered an internet cafe near the beach, seizing 28-year-old Khalid Saeed and smashing his head against a marble shelf, dragging him outside, and brutally beating and kicking him to the ground. Saeed pleaded for them to stop, but the police shoved him into a car in which he died en route to the Sidi Gaber police station. Afterwards, his lifeless body was brought back to the café and dumped. With Saeed’s death, a Pandora’s Box had been opened. Continue reading “Egypt’s Collision Course With History”