The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

94° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Q&A: Protester reflects on revolution in Egypt

Wael Nawara is a writer, activist and co-founder of El-Ghad, a political party in Egypt. Time magazine named “the protester” as the 2011 Person of the Year, and highlighted Nawara as one of the most influential protesters in the Egyptian Revolution. Nawara now speaks to various institutions and organizations about the revolution, which began a year ago.

Daily Wildcat: One year after the revolution, is Egypt where you expected it to be?

Nawara: Egypt is going through its growing pains and anybody who expected something different would be mistaken. The nature of change is parting from an old to a new paradigm, in the middle of that you have chaos. It’s never a smooth path, but let me tell you this: The biggest achievement so far is the change in the Egyptian people themselves. It’s a transformation in how the individual views authority, and that’s extremely powerful.

People watch the violence on TV and many might say that the revolution has made things worse, and that less Egyptians would be dead if they had just stayed silent. How do you respond?

Here in the United States, there was a war against the British, a civil war, and there was a lot of unrest throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Somebody could argue, “What was the point of that? Lots of people died.” Everything has a cost, and the mode of change is for the people to decide. Life is change. If you don’t like change, that’s up to you. But it’ll happen anyway.

What was the atmosphere like when the revolution started?

The first feeling was, “We made it. I can die today a happy man.” For years, we’ve had faith in our hearts, but there was no physical evidence that things would get better. It’s like if all your life you’ve been praying and someone tells you, “Stop wasting your time, God doesn’t exist.” And then one day you finally see God in all his glory and you see heaven and hell. Hallelujah!

Were you worried about dying?

Protesting is not easy to do, but you try to rise above those fears, and so many people showed unbelievable courage. Based on what they wrote on Facebook, you could tell that a lot of people knew once they went to protest, they weren’t coming back. Nobody wanted to die, but they wanted freedom so much that they were wiling to die for it. Freedom is a basic instinct. Without it, you’re dead anyway.

What has to happen for you to consider the Revolution finished and a success?

That’s very hard to measure, but I’ll feel the revolution has started to pay dividends when I see a political process in place whereby the people are represented. Our pursuit for a better society is a march that will never end.

If Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian man who set himself on fire and ignited the Arab Spring, was still alive, what would you tell him?

We’ve heard you. Thank you for waking people up and know that your life was not given in vain. You were not humiliated, you were privileged enough to become the spark for an awakening in global consciousness. You changed the world.

For more information on Nawara and his studies, visit http://cmes.arizona.edu/colloquium/sp12/nawara.

More to Discover
Activate Search