Take a group of young people, educate them about the rights and wrongs of this world and put them on the center stages. Add to that scores of newspaper journalists, social media feeds and frustrate the living daylights out of them with news of corruption and what do you get? A revolutionary reality show is what it looks like from where we are standing. If you weren't following the international news, it might have come as a shock to see this come to light. I know I was still attempting to decipher the happenings of the last recall when the news broke out.
One very significant reason for this lack of public communication can be accredited to the misreporting of the news as they happen on the ground. In their new book “Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution” Basma Hamdy, Egyptian graffiti artist and Don Karl confirm this. They say no other media outlet could be trusted to maintain the truth and integrity of the revolution in 2011 and hence the surge in the public art. It’s through these images that the true story is depicted, beyond the newspaper headlines and Twitter trending topics. In October 2012 though, one Egyptian newspaper hit the nail on the head; El Wady interviewed 12 year old Ali Ahmed after the first demonstrations against then-president Mohammed Morsi in Cairo. The simple, yet smart and impactful way in which the young boy advocated people’s power captured the mood of millions of Egyptians as well as the international audience. What we saw overhead as hundreds of people marching to Cairo's Tahrir Square was Molotov-cocktails-throwing teenagers dodging volleys of tear gas canisters from the police but on the ground it was another story.
In Ali’s translated video footage filmed on the side of the road during the demonstration he said, “I’m here to help prevent Egypt from being a commodity owned by one person and to protest against the confiscation of the constitution by one single party.” This 12 year old continued to add that they didn’t get rid of the military regime only to replace it with fascist theocracy. When asked how he knew all this, he responded confidently, “I listen to people a lot and I use my own brain. Plus I read papers, watch TV and research the internet.” He went on to add that the social objectives of the revolution had not yet been achieved and that there still were no jobs in the country. “The police still jails people randomly, and as for social justice? How can a news anchor get 30 million Egyptian pounds while some people still pick food from the garbage? Half of our societies are women, how come there are only seven ladies in the constitution assembly – six of whom are Islamic?” It’s clear that this season of Egypt’s’ televised revolution goes beyond changing governments and we have the subtitles switched off as to what the Pharaohs have been telling us.
Even so, doesn't this kid make you wish our youth was as clued up?
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