(London: I.B.Tauris, 2015)
Triumphant crowds rejoiced when Egypt’s ruler of three decades, who presided over a security-backed order that monopolized power and rigged elections, was forced to relinquish authority in the face of popular revolt. With the demise of the second Arab autocrat within a month—first in Tunisia and then in Egypt—people power seemed on the verge of revolutionizing the Middle East, known for its monarchs and presidents for life. This book unpacks Egypt’s media and politics dynamic—tracing events through the period leading up to the 2011 revolution, 18 days of uprising, then military rule, an Islamist president’s year in office, his ouster by the army, and the reestablishment of the military presidency. Expanded freedoms of expression, in the press and on the streets, have contracted with the skillful reinvention of repression, justified by the overarching war on terrorism state violence worked to foment. The revolutionary demand of “Bread, freedom, social justice, human dignity” was eclipsed by shrill cries for retribution against adversaries, mixed in a toxic brew of suspicion and contempt. Critical voices and democratic promoters were harangued for being fifth columnists seeking the nation’s ruin, and with gaping political fault lines and the advancement of myriad conspiracies, ideological trends have clung to their own narratives of truth. This is the story of an uprising.
“This is a careful account of journalism’s roller coaster ride in the course of a decade in Egypt, by a writer, fully engaged with the country’s politics and culture and its struggle for a civil society. It is rigorously detailed and sourced, and breathes the air of liberation. Abdalla Hassan has shown, uniquely well, the forces at play in Egyptian society and the result is a most valuable testament.”
Contributing Editor at the Financial Times
and Senior Research Fellow, RISJ
From graffiti slogans to national anthems, Media, Revolution and Politics in Egypt places her reader in the center of Tahrir Square before and after it became the epicenter of Egypt’s burgeoning democracy. Author Abdalla F. Hassan provides a detailed account of the interwoven role that media and politics played in Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Giving his readers a front row seat to the action, Hassan skillfully captures Egyptians’ use of media prior, during and after the revolution. This is because, “more than becoming just the struggle of Egyptians for basic freedoms against a dictatorship, the media made this a revolution that the world watched.”
Hassan provides a straightforward reportage that is valuable and readable for anyone who wants to understand how events unfolded. . . . Hassan provides a hindsight analysis with fourteen key observations. Those observations are a healthy reminder that while media offer a means to question and protest against authoritarian regimes, they can also serve those regimes in many ways. Many of Hassan’s observations have wider relevance, notably his two final points: ‘Propaganda and conspiracy theories have lost none of their efficacy’; and ‘Citizens are forming their own personal truth narratives’. . . . Hassan makes clear his commitment to the hope that the revolution that will bring Egyptians bread, freedom and justice is yet to be completed. That hope will make the book worth reading in years to come.