The state must bow to the people: Egypt's revolutionary icon Ahmed Harara

Dina Ezzat , Tuesday 19 Nov 2013

Two years after losing his second eye in the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, Ahmed Harara, one of the icons of the revolution, explains to Ahram Online why he will keep on fighting for a better Egypt

Ahmed Harara.
Ahmed Harara (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

It has been two years since Ahmed Harara was taken to hospital with a grave injury to his only working eye.

He had lost his right eye through a gunshot to the face on 28 January 2011, in protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

This time, Harara was on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in central Cairo, taking part in demonstrations there. Protesters were angry at the mismanagement of the transitional stage which followed after Mubarak stepped down in February 2011. It was here that he lost his second eye.

Today, despite the loss of his sight, Harara is as engaged as ever – “more engaged” according to those who know him – in doing everything he knows to keep the demands of the 2011 revolution.

Harara, a former dentist who is now a full-time rights lobbyist, is working with a group of associates through the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) to ensure that individuals with special needs are granted rights in the new constitution which is currently being drafted.

“The state is not serious; it is offering empty promises; they offer you things that are not at all concrete; but we are still lobbying and we will continue lobbying,” Harara said.

Two years after the 2011 clashes at Mohamed Mahmoud, Harara is certain that the attitude of the state towards citizens with special needs is representative of the attitude of the state towards the larger demands of the 2011 revolution, “that have been taking us to the streets since then over and over again.”

“The state wants to simply turn its back to the whole course of the 2011 revolution; this is what the military regime, which in fact has been ruling this country for 60 years, is doing through the [executive] authorities and the control over the media and the coercion of the ministry of interior,” Harara said. “But little do they see the determination of this nation to make its victory.”

Harara, who himself of late has come under attack by anti-revolution forces, is not blind to the fact that such reactionaries now have the upper hand, but he also sees a shift coming round the corner.

“When I talk to people I see their resolve, despite the temporary moment of fatigue that comes from the deteriorating living conditions and economic situation,” he added.

It is this resolve that has convinced him that the call of the 2011 revolution has won more battles than it has lost.

“A major victory, I would say, is the fact that despite the aggressive attempt to brainwash people through the media, for the most part at least, people keep going,” he said.

And whatever might happen in the short term either with the constitution or the presidential elections, Harara is not terribly worried.

“We will fix everything; there are generations...that have clearly made a commitment to the cause of the revolution and...we will continue despite the anti-revolutionary forces that sit at the heart of the executive and the media and despite the remnants of the Hosni Mubarak regime that are trying hard to make a comeback.”

Harara believes that in the short-term the state will "use the Muslim Brotherhood scarecrow successfully.”

“It still has an edge with scaring people about the possible return of the Muslim Brotherhood whose rule failed to honour the demands of the revolution and the basic demands of the people; but it is only a matter of time before this psychological weapon will expire...and by then the state will not have anything to offer to accommodate the anger of the people that cannot be easily deferred,” he said.

Harara, a man of quiet dignity, seems determined not to allow himself to be broken by pain.

“I am not alone, and I am not defeated and I am not giving up before I see a state, with all its institutions with no single exception, bowing to the people,” Harara said.

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