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Revolution Is My Name

Revolution Is My Name: An Egyptian Woman’s Diary from Eighteen Days in Tahrir

Mona Prince
Translated by Samia Mehrez
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Revolution Is My Name
    Book Description:

    Mona Prince’s humorous and insightful memoir tells of one woman’s journey as a hesitant revolutionary through the eighteen days of the Egyptian uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Alongside the brutal violence of the security forces, the daily battles of resistance, and the author’s own abduction and beating at the hands of the police, this is a story of exceptional solidarity, perseverance, and humanity. Juggling humor and horror, hope and fear, certitude and anxiety, Prince immerses us in the details of each unpredictable and fateful day. She mixes the political and the personal, the public and the private to expose and confront divisions within her family, as well as her own social prejudices, which she discovers through encounters with diverse sectors of society, from police conscripts to street children. Revolution Is My Name is a testimony not only of women’s participation in the Egyptian uprising and their courage in confronting constrictive gender divides at home and on the street, but equally of their important contribution as chroniclers of the momentous events of January and February 2011.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-617-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[v])
  2. [Map]
    (pp. [vi]-[vi])
  3. A Necessary Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    This was the comment I posted after the Tunisians succeeded in toppling their president.

    I called up my friends and relatives, and we congratulated each other as if the Tunisian Revolution was our own. We were sincerely happy for them. I was in my home in Tunis, a small village in the Oasis of Fayoum, following live, and for the first time in my life, a revolution that deposed an Arab dictator. I met up with some of my friends in the village and we celebrated Tunisia’s revolution together. And, of course, we wondered whether the Egyptian people would ever...

  4. 1 Tuesday, January 25, 2011
    (pp. 13-31)

    I am not one of the hungry or the downtrodden, nor do I belong to a political party or a particular intellectual movement. I believe in freedom of expression, but I do not believe that demonstrations that end with violence and detentions are necessarily the solution. I do not have suggestions to change the status quo and I do not see a better or worse future on the horizon. I see a dead end.

    I finished grading some of my students’ exam booklets that routinely cause me depression because of the mediocre quality of the answers as well as their...

  5. 2 Wednesday, January 26, 2011
    (pp. 32-40)

    I received a message from a friend on Facebook from Algeria whom I did not know in person. She had been following events in Tunisia and now in Egypt. “Please circulate this information: In order to stop the effect of the teargas canister, put it in a bowl of water for a couple of seconds. Please let people know. Also use a dampened cloth with vinegar to cover your nose.”

    The TV had been on all morning. My parents were watching the news, flipping through different channels. Protests continued in several cities in Egypt. My father anxiously gripped the remote...

  6. 3 Suez
    (pp. 41-45)

    Throughout my life, I have hated Suez. Not quite all my life but since I started working at the Suez Canal University, in Suez. Initially, I thought that this move would be a civilized transition to a harbor city, rich in petroleum, by the sea, and home to the canal. Instead, I found an ugly and completely neglected town with unpaved streets and dilapidated buildings, except for Port Tawfik, the cosmopolitan end of town, reserved for the senior employees of the Suez Canal Administration. How could a city with so much going for it be so poor and so ugly?...

  7. 4 Thursday, January 27, 2011
    (pp. 46-51)

    Al-Ahramnewspaper: Report on Events during the Past Two Days, 27 January 2011

    Downtown Cairo witnessed a massive demonstration in the afternoon that started in front of the Lawyers’ Syndicate and in which young lawyers and members of the April 6 and Kefaya movements participated.

    The protesters chanted slogans against the state and demanded freedom of expression, democratic practices, and a halt to the rise in costs of living. They marched to Ramsis and 26th of July streets bringing traffic to a complete standstill. Security forces handled them, leading to skirmishes between the protestors and security, as well as injuries...

  8. 5 January 28, 2011, Friday of Rage
    (pp. 52-85)

    I woke up early, feeling motivated, hopeful, and optimistic even though I had not slept enough and despite all the warnings against demonstrations issued by the Ministry of Interior and tirelessly broadcast on television—not to mention the worry and fear in my parents’ eyes. I read the directives for the demonstrations that I had saved on my computer and that had been posted on several pages before the Internet had been cut off on Thursday night:

    The demonstrations will be peaceful. We are peaceful and are not calling for violence. We must exercise self-restraint and must not do anything...

  9. 6 Saturday, January 29
    (pp. 86-96)

    I had imagined that as soon as I threw myself on my bed, in my own home, I would collapse and sleep. But no, that didn’t happen. I kept tossing and turning in search of a comfortable position, but to no avail. My body began to ache after the beating I got on Wednesday. The people’s chants to overthrow the regime echoed in my ears. An hour or two went by, but I still couldn’t get any sleep. I wanted to go back to Tahrir. My sister and I got ready to go. My parents were in the living room...

  10. 7 Sunday, January 30
    (pp. 97-103)

    It was morning already. The curfew hours had ended. I wanted to go home, but I didn’t have the energy to walk to the metro station at Isaaf. If only I could sleep for two hours. I went into the room where the girls were sleeping. I woke one of them up: “Get up. It’s already nine o’clock. I want to sleep a little.”

    She got up and the others followed suit. I lay on the floor. Everyone was getting up and the commotion started all over again. After a while, Mohamed Hashem called me for breakfast, “Get up. We...

  11. 8 Monday, January 31
    (pp. 104-107)

    I woke up feeling tired, having spent the night on the floor without a cover. I had some bread and cheese and leftovers from dinner the night before that I found at Merit. I then had coffee. It was exactly what I needed. I went for a stroll in the midan with friends. Those who had spent the night there told us that a couscous handcart had arrived in the midan during the early hours of the morning and was greeted jubilantly by everyone. People hurried toward it and organized themselves in queues without fighting for their turn. The owner...

  12. 9 Tuesday, February 1, The First Million-Man March
    (pp. 108-119)

    Thousands of Egyptians of all shapes, colors, classes, and ages flocked to the midan early in the morning. Some were carrying Egypt’s flag; others were holding different signs, many of which were very funny:

    “Mubarak, Fly Away Now.”

    “Leave, Thank You!”

    “Saudi Arabia Awaits You.”

    “Mubarak, Sorry, You Have No More Credit.”

    “Leave, I Want to Live.”

    “I Want the Internet Back.”

    “ I Want Hashish.”

    Groups of people were chanting, “The people demand the removal of the president.” I headed toward my new location at the Talaat Harb Street entrance to the midan. I joined two girls who were...

  13. 10 10. Wednesday, February 2, The Battle of the Camel
    (pp. 120-132)

    The sound of feet shuffling on the floor, noise, voices shouting “yes,” incomprehensible sentences. I opened my eyes and shut them again. The sounds returned in less than a few minutes. I slowly opened my eyes and looked around me. I was in my bed. “Yes to Mubarak!” The chant was being repeated aloud but without enthusiasm. I opened the window and peeked out: a rather small group of young people and children marching with large posters of Mubarak. They looked quite suspicious.

    I made some coffee and started getting ready to leave.

    “Why are you going out again?” my...

  14. 11 Thursday, February 3
    (pp. 133-140)

    Finally, one of my friends from Heliopolis called to say that he was going to Tahrir. We agreed to meet in Midan Hadayeq al-Qubba and to go to Tahrir via Salah Salem Road and then through Downtown. I put on heavy clothes and a coat; I covered my head with a woolen shawl and put on large sunglasses over my prescription ones. I kissed my father and mother.

    “What have you done to yourself?”

    “I’m incognito.”

    My mother laughed and said, “Why don’t you find a picture of Mubarak and stick it on your chest.”

    “Is that a joke or...

  15. 12 February 4, Friday of Departure
    (pp. 141-146)

    One of the people who had been sleeping on the floor got up. I immediately took his place. I was dying to sleep for a couple of hours. I quickly fell asleep and dreamed that I was twenty years old and had just finished my PhD thesis and was waiting for my defense. The defense was postponed, but I wasn’t upset, nor were the young men and women who surrounded me. Instead, we exchanged jokes and gags. What mattered was that I had finished the thesis; the defense could be whenever. We ate roumi cheese sandwiches together. I opened my...

  16. 13 The Week of Perseverance
    (pp. 147-182)

    Okay, I really must shower now.

    I went to my friend who lives on Champollion Street. The citizens’ checkpoint members stopped me at the entrance to the street to check my ID and let me through. I went straight to the bathroom. Oh my God! Hot water! A shower!

    I borrowed clothes from my friend and washed my own and hung them out to dry. I covered my head with a wool-embroidered shawl so as not to catch cold, and then I left. I was stopped again by the citizens’ checkpoint.

    “Where are you going?”

    “I’m going to the midan,”...

  17. 14 February 11, Friday of Deliverance
    (pp. 183-192)

    I woke up at dawn. I looked around me to determine where I was. I was still in the chair I had collapsed into some hours before. Despair, depression, and confusion covered the faces of those present. I decided to go to Maspero. I wanted to find out how those who had gone were doing. I wrapped a small blanket around my shoulders and took off.

    I could hear the defiant chant “Leave,” before even arriving in Maspero. Thousands were gathered in front of the TV Building where army and Presidential Guard armored vehicles were lined up. Since last night,...

  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-194)