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Faces from Egypt

Magdy Abdel Ghaffar: Egypt’s New Interior Minister with a Past

General Magdy Abdel Ghaffar was a little-known name in Egypt until his appointment as interior minister on 5 March 2015 thrust him into the spotlight. Human rights groups and activists are worried that his appointment will mean further erosion of freedoms and the gains they made following the 25 January revolution.

Every ruling party in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party has at one time or another arrested 26-year-old Ahmed Douma, a law student at Tanta University and an activist and blogger. He is currently in prison, as he has been under the past four consecutive governments.
Mansour’s access to powerful or controversial personalities made him a famous journalist, but his recent political views expressed in the media have distinguished him from other renowned journalists who keep quieter about their political leanings.
Bassem Youssef has become the most famous artist in the Arab world and originated a phenomenon that many tried to replicate. Youssef joined the movement that eventually overthrew the president in February 2011, helping to care for injured protesters, and subsequently creating a political satirical show unlike anything seen before in the region.
Today people know Anissa Hassouna as one of the most influential Arab women and member of the Egyptian parliament. A passion to serve her country through civil society encouraged Hassouna to start many initiatives for human rights and citizenship. Although Hassouna was named one of the 100 most powerful Arab women, she confessed that she is softens when she sees her three grandchildren.
Tawadros entered the political arena in July 2013. When then-General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi in a televised address, Tawadros was at his side, together with the Muslim leader Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb.
At the start of the protests, Ghonim was detained for 11 days. After his release, he appeared on television and addressed the protesting crowd on Tahrir Square, quickly making him a symbol of the revolution.
On 16 Febraury 2017, Nadia Ahmed Abdo has been appointed as the first femal governor in Egypt. Her appointment has been hailed as a victory for women’s emancipation and it proves the government's belief in women's leadership capabilities
Al-Aswany remains a controversial figure. He says he has been barred from appearing in any TV shows or writing for any Egyptian media outlets, whether state run or private. He is still hated by most Islamists, who accuse him of contributing to Morsi’s ouster, the death of thousands of civilians and a return to military rule. One thing has not changed, however: he continues to criticize those in power, arguing that a democratic, liberal alternative to the army and the Islamists is the only way for the country to progress.
Through his role in the island case, Ali has become the face of Egypt’s secular revolutionaries, who were the driving force of the Arab Spring protests in 2011. His detention follows a spate of arrests targeting media and opposition figures, in what rights groups have called Egypt’s harshest crackdown on dissent in decades.
Fouda spoke out against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces and Mohamed Morsi. Later, he became critical of the military-led coalition by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In Egypt’s current media environment, which has become more restrictive than under Mubarak, it is unlikely that he would find work at home.
Still, Shabayek sees some – albeit small – changes brought about by the revolution. Women are more willing to speak out and share their stories; the audience is more open to accepting them. “The revolution has left us feeling empowered when it comes to self-expression. There is a change in people at least, even if the system is the same or maybe worse.”
Although Amr khaled continues to preach and promote his brand of development to young people, he has fallen a long way from the dizzy heights of 2007, when Time magazine voted him one of the most influential people in the world.
Since winning the Arabic Booker in 2009, he has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of religious extremism and cultural decline in Egypt. His voice is one among a growing number in Egypt calling for cultural change, change that can only happen if Egyptians begin to question dearly held beliefs, especially religious ones.
Like reformists before him – such as Muhammad Abduh and Jamal al-Din al-Afghani – al-Qaradawi has attracted a massive following by reconciling Islamic practices with the modern world. However, his politics are considerably sectarian, making him an uncomfortable and divisive figure among Western governments and regional analysts.
In the 2018 presidential elections, there seems to be no major role for Sabahi. The candidate with political views closest to his own is Khaled Ali, also part of the leftist camp and present during Sabahi’s speech at the SPAP conference in September. However, it would not be the first time that internal divisions pulled the leftist opposition apart.
When the revolution erupted, however, everything changed. He would regularly perform in the square, and his songs were seen as embodying many of the values of the uprising. He soon became one of the artists of the revolution, his voice instantly recognizable to the hundreds of thousands of people who had taken to the street.
Speaking with Ibrahim, one feels that his mission is over. He has done his part – “clashing with every regime from Nasser to Sadat, Mubarak and al-Sisi” – and now hopes that his fight for democracy, rights and civil society in Egypt will continue after him.
Shawkan has become a symbol of the oppression of journalists in Egypt. He received the 2018 UNESCO/Guillero Cano Press Freedom Prize on 2 May 2018. However, Shawkan’s nomination for the award sparked an angry reaction from Egypt.
Salah shies away from politics and seems to want to avoid problems with the state. He donated 5 million Egyptian pounds ($285,000) to the public Tahya Masr (‘long live Egypt’) fund that is used for large ‘national’ government projects such as the Suez Canal extension and the new administrative capital. Even so, he has found himself an unwilling political pawn, either being used for political gain or smeared by pro-regime media.
Throughout the political upheaval of the past seven years, el-Tayeb has succeeded in maintaining al-Azhar’s key role in Egypt’s power dynamics, by strongly supporting the regime and the army, preventing major internal changes at al-Azhar and ensuring Islam retains a central role in public policies.
It was a video Fathy posted on Facebook a few days before the arrest that got her in trouble. In the video, she was telling her own story of sexual harassment: how she was harrassed by the security personnel of her bank. She also criticised the Egyptian government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment. She also criticised more generally the crackdown on political opposition in Egypt and the socioeconomic conditions inthe country.
As of June 2018, Amal had documented nearly 3,000 marriages and 200 divorce cases in the Ash Sharqiyah Governorate. She believes that most cases of divorce are caused by the spouses' use of mobile applications, namely Facebook and WhatsApp, in addition to some spyware programs used by the spouses to act out their feelings of jealousy or mistrust of the other. Other reasons for divorce include those related to reproduction and more material reasons.
The performances deal with diverse and often controversial topics such as circumcision, sexual harassment, street children, dreams, civic participation of youth, the environment, racism, migration and the portrayal of women in the media and law.
Many critics consider Omar Khairat to be the best artist in terms of creating soundtracks used in dramatic works and movies. He is the author of some of the most famous soundtracks in the history of Egyptian art, such as the drama series “The Miserly,” “Me,” “Second Meeting,” and “Conscience of Halfwit,” in addition to the movies “The Terrorist” and “Execution of Dead Person,” among others. On this point, Khairat said, “I adapt music to allow it to speak in its own language about the scene and the imagery, so the musical rhythms are the key audio or acoustic elements of the story, situation or subject of the work of art.
During her detention, she wrote an open letter titled ‘We shall continue’, vowing to keep on fighting until the controversial Protest Law issued in November 2013 – which effectively annihilated the right to protest – was abolished. She also pointed to class differences that determine one’s treatment even in prison, ending her letter with the call: ‘Down with this classist society’.

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