Vanity Fair’s May issue features a photographic series of young Egyptians dubbed, at various points in the accompanying article, ‘tech-savvy internet activists.’ The first photograph is of Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who created the Arabic-language Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said.” Ghonim (in the photo above) emerged as a hero of sorts (despite his public display of modesty), and to many around the globe represents the new face of this so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ Ghonim also participated in the referendum planning meetings with Egypt’s High Military Council and other (all male) ‘leaders’ of the revolution, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is possibly something Mohamed Diab, one of those photographed (photo above), would have liked to discuss in more detail with Henry Porter, the author of the essay attached to the series. His film”678,” which examines the daily sexual harassment the majority of Egyptian women face, is a harsh and necessary critique of the many issues Egypt and Egyptians must address. Certainly, Drs. Mohammad and El Sheikh as well as Ahdaf Soueif’s nieces, also pictured (below), would appreciate their fellow revolutionaries joining in the fight against the harassment and oppression of women that persists at all levels of Egyptian society.
Considering this: where are the photographs of Egyptian women being verbally and physically attacked in Tahrir Square as they celebrated International Women’s Day? Instead, we have a photo of King Tut’s mask and it’s armed personal guard. Another Egyptian king to protect by any means necessary, I suppose.
The referendum passed, despite failing to address the scope of presidential powers. This is also in spite of the majority of these ‘young leaders’ who campaigned against the referendum, hoping to receive time to institute more significant changes – changes that would prevent the military from arresting activists and bloggers, for instance (Egypt has a long, difficult history with military juntas). Instead, we are now contending with a significant disconnect between the media-praised ‘tech-savvy’ activists and their fellow citizens, most of whom will not be featured in a Vanity Fair article anytime soon.
This photographic series does inspire some hope, however. As cynical as many Egyptians (namely myself) are, to see Egyptians such as these – politicians, celebrities, bloggers and journalists – out in the open, continuing to fight, is absolutely remarkable. Hossam el-Hamalawy (whose blog Arabawy has been a favorite of many activists for years, pictured above) sums up recent events in Egypt, and his own participation in them, quite simply: “Revolutions don’t happen out of the blue.”
See the full slideshow here.