A review of Media, Revolution and Politics in Egypt: The Story of an Uprising, by Abdalla F. Hassan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 276 pages.
From graffiti slogans to national anthems, Media, Revolution and Politics in Egypt places her reader in the center of Tahrir Square before and after it became the epicenter of Egypt's burgeoning democracy. Author Abdalla F. Hassan provides a detailed account of the interwoven role that media and politics played in Egypt's 2011 revolution. Giving his readers a front row seat to the action, Hassan skillfully captures Egyptians' use of media prior, during and after the revolution. This is because, "more than becoming just the struggle of Egyptians for basic freedoms against a dictatorship, the media made this a revolution that the world watched." (1)
Ultimately, Hassan traces the perplexing story of how Egypt's army came to be both the enemy and eventual hero of the Egyptian people. By the time of current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's intervention through a coup d'etat in 2013, "talk show hosts on private Egyptian satellite channels rejoiced in news of Morsi's removal, scrawled on Egyptian flags, crying tears of joy, singing along as the national anthem was played, and uttering words of praise to the valiant public guardians--the army and police." (2) This, only to face "a government [that] went further in restricting the press, pressuring the cancellation of a television drama and a popular satire programme, and jailing journalists under the guise of waging war against terrorism." (3) The book concisely tells the story of Egypt's attempt at a free media, her revolutionaries, and the rotating political circumstances that fought their way to create and improve Egypt's nascent democracy.
Hassan begins by extensively covering eight years of independent media and social media activity despite a heavy state hand that was embedded in Egyptian society long before the revolution. He reveals to the reader that activism has long simmered in Egyptian society, but it was social media that prompted political activity.
By chapter two, Hassan, in journal entry form, details the first 18 days of what is now known as Egypt's Arab Spring. In doing so, he deconstructs the state's narrative, debunks skeptics who believed it was led by foreign interests, and reinforces the "purity" of the revolution which centered on "political freedoms, unemployment and poverty since they were issues of concern to all Egyptians." (4)...