As a vast number of political parties and movements began to be formed after the January 25 Revolution, Mona Shahien wanted to provide a platform for enthusiastic youth to learn new skills and a venue for dialogue between political forces.
Tahrir Lounge, funded by the German government, is a project that hosts different political parties and movements for discussions and debates, and holds workshops in different fields such as citizen journalism, blogging, animation and documentary filmmaking.
“The most important thing at the moment is raising the political awareness of citizens,” said Shahien.
“We host any political movement regardless of its ideology,” she continued, “from liberals to socialists to Islamists.”
A series titled “Man Antom?” (Who are you?) enables citizens to talk to heads of political parties to inquire about their programs and plans.
The project, which was launched in April was initially to be active for a year, however, it was extended for another two years due to its success.
“At first, around 20 to 30 people used to attend our events,” said Shahien, “now the attendees reach 300 and 400.”
A project that will be taking place is a workshop, in colaboration with the NGO Haraket Morakba, to train monitors for the upcoming parliamentary elections. “We want to have four people in each district to report on the happenings in an efficient and unbiased manner,” said Shahien.
Shahien worked in television pre-revolution and underlines how unprofessional state media is in Egypt, thus, the emphasis on media and journalism in the workshops.
“We are hoping the workshops bring about a good outcome,” she said.
There are also workshops about human rights. “It is strange that many citizens do not know their rights,” she said. Another workshop will be given for awareness of workers’ rights.
Since its launch, Tahrir Lounge has held many events; most recently it hosted the group Salafyo Costa, a Salafist Muslim group that is trying to raise awareness about religious tolerance, contributes to development projects, and has held a celebration for Egyptian workers after three factories were renationalised. It has also held many sessions of a ‘Tweet Nadwa’ (Tweet Seminar), which is basically a meeting of bloggers and activists, a lecture night titled Pecha Kucha, and the launch of a comic magazine about human rights called Doshma.
On 11 November, Tahrir Lounge will be holding a celebratory event for the launch of their website and will be holding a screening of the best projects made during the workshops.
The events and workshop announcements can be followed on the group’s Facebook page titled Tahrir Lounge.