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Pete Willows August 20, 2011 Word count: about 240.

A Lens on the Revolution


The Road to Tahrir: front line images by Six Young Egyptian Photographers. 2011. The American University in Cairo Press: Cairo, New York. ISBN 978 977 416 514 6. Dar el Kutub No. 5654/11. Photographers: Sherif Assaf, Omar Attia, Rehab K. El Dalil, Timothy Kaldas, Zee Mo & Monir El-Shazly. Text by Omar Attia and Timothy Kaldas. This gripping photo essay of the January 25 Revolution in Egypt was shot by and narrated from the perspective of six young Egyptians whom, were shoulder to shoulder with the protesters, revolutionaries, police and armed forces. As the world learnt, while watching these dramatic and inspiring events unfold, Tahrir translates as liberation, a meaning which, was not lost on the participants of this revolution. Though commonly called a revolution, this was a leaderless secular uprisingthe photos capturing the intense emotional responses on the faces of those involved. This book is arranged in chronological order, starting on the 25th of January, The Day of Revolt, and finishing on the 19th of March, with the Constitutional Referendum. Some of the more moving photos in this essay document the Battle of the Camel, when beltagia [thugs in Egyptian Arabic] charged Tahrir Square riding camels and horses, and while brandishing batons, whips and chains. The text tells us of the horrid injuries the peaceful protesters suffered, including blinding and disfigurement. One wonders how these rural uneducated thugs, bereft of political ideology, intellect and compassion, were able to organise and make their way into central metropolitan Cairo. But this book has inspiring images as well, including the adulation and emotional intoxication that came with the ultimate goal of the uprising, which was the resignation of long-time Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak. The book is available at the American University in Cairo Bookstore, in Midan al-Tahrir.

Willows is a contributing writer to The Egyptian Gazette and its weekly edition, The Egyptian Mail. He studied at the American University in Cairo. He can be reached at willows@aucegypt.edu