“Tahrir” by Imma Vitelli

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“Tahrir” by Imma Vitelli was one of the first books concerning the Arab Springs of 2011 and, many years later, it is fundamental for understanding that historical moment

Tahrir: the young people who made the Revolution

There was a time when we were worthy men. Ahmed Maher’s mind echoes the words spoken by his father when he was a child, now that he is a revolutionary leader, now that the Arab world is in turmoil, now that history seems to call young people to fight tyrannies. We too, in Egypt, can do it, Ahmed Maher thinks, as happened in Tunisia after the martyrdom of Mohamed Bouazizi. Let’s win back honor and freedom, right away. Many others in Cairo think like him. They are Khaled el Sayed, Abdul Rahman Samir, Sally Toma, Zyad el Alaymi, Islam Lutfi… Students, IT experts, lawyers. Members of different political and religious groups, united in the same cause: to form an active resistance front against the government of Hosni Mubarak, president-monarch in office for thirty years.


They are the first “social” generation. They communicate via Twitter, post videos of the clashes on YouTube, meet on Facebook pages in secret places in the city, form protest marches that converge in a single “vibrant tide” in the nerve center of Tahrir Square. Thus was born, between January 25 and February 11, 2011, that revolt that in a short time, “the time it takes an idea to become a feeling”, will lead to the deposition of Mubarak. Together with the young shebabs, animated by the same pride, there are professionals, doctors, university teachers, journalists, mothers, fathers, entire families, thousands of voices united in a single, unstoppable cry: «Whoever wants to change, come to Tahrir!».

How a revolution is born

Imma Vitelli’s text is one of the first I ever read about the Middle East and I must say that, even many years later, it remains a truly significant book to understand how it all began. The thing that still makes the Arab Springs memorable today is in fact the fact that they managed to overthrow regimes that had lasted for decades, succeeding for the first time in their history in obtaining democracy. This work, specifically, does an incredible news report about what happened in 2011 in Egypt, allowing us to really breathe the soul of those days.

Egyptian revolution

The journalist followed the events with the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, making it possible for the reader to try to relive those moments that were so intense, excited but, above all, rich in nuances. In that square not only a certain political area and / or religious group descended, in that square people of all groups, of all ages and of all creeds descended, with the only desire to be finally free from violence and dictatorship. Even more today, in the light of this much heralded “love for free speech”, the lack of memory of these events and the shameful prizes given to dictators shows how much need there is to recover texts like this; not to forget what the word “humanity” means.

After Tahrir

“Tahrir” by Imma Vitelli came out in 2012, one year after the Egyptian Revolution, 9 years ago. During these 9 long years, many things have happened in the land of the pharaohs, unfortunately not what we hoped for. In May 2012, Mohamed Morsi became the first elected president in the history of Egypt, the first moment of democracy for one of the oldest and most monumental countries in the world. The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood, obtained de facto in the second round, however, will not be well received by all Egyptians, so much so that, starting from the following year, popular protests against the president will begin.


These will then be co-opted by General Al Sisi who will take the opportunity to carry out a real coup, bringing even more violence and repression than Mubarak had done before (who among other things will be freed in 2017). Surely for the Italians the most immediate and impactful symbol is the barbaric and shameful killing of Giulio Regeni, but for the Egyptians it is undoubtedly the massacre in Rabaa Square in 2013; according to Human Rights Watch, the latter was “the worst mass murder in the modern history of Egypt”. A group of Muslim Brothers opposed to the coup occupied the mosque of Rabi’a al-‘Adawiya, managing, even in spite of the bullets fired by the army and the police, to maintain the position for 6 weeks before seeing their hopes given to the flames. On August 14, in fact, the order was given to evacuate the area by force, setting fire to the mosque with those who refused to comply with the orders. The dead will be about 1000, the vast majority of them civilians, and it is estimated that more than 4000 were injured.

10 years later

Ten years have passed since the Revolution and so much blood and suffering has filled hearts and streets. Life seems to have returned to what it once was in Egypt, with a new portrait to hang on the wall and little else; here, however, is the difference, in that “it seems”. Beyond its unfortunate results, in fact, the Revolution took place, it was not a dream. We have all seen those thousands of men, women and children who occupied the streets together shouting “Irhal”, “Go away!”. People of every creed, background and history who took to the streets side by side, with a common dream: a homeland in which to live with justice and civilization.

Egyptian revolution

We saw how this dream was shared by everyone, even the army and police, so much so that they took sides in the streets with the demonstrators, showing for the umpteenth time that humanity is one and beats in unison. We have seen how unarmed civilians have managed to get the better of everything by wielding nothing but courage, desperation and justice and no one will ever be able to cancel it. The murderers of the Revolution will try in every way because they know the power of memory, but the latter will be the wave that will bury them in the end. May the great and wonderful Egyptian people always prosper and definitively regain possession of their future. احبك يا مصر

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