The article entitled “Writing the Revolution” by Wendell Steavenson was published in the New Yorker in January 2012. It discusses the life of Alaa Al Aswany, his writings and political views and how those affected the revolution in Egypt that led to the removal of President Hosni Mubarak from office and the later Tahrir protests.
Aswany is best known for his 2002 work “The Youcoubian Building” which rapidly became a best seller and was lauded for the direct was it confronted the political issues of the time that Aswany was addressing. While most other Egyptian authors stayed away from mentioning social and political issues, Aswany attacked the corrupt regime of the time directly. He believes that literature should relate the lives of the people- politics he says is a very important part of people’s lives especially for those who were living under President Mubarak. After “The Youcoubian Building” became famous, there were many attempts to manipulate Aswany through threats and attempted blackmail to get him to stop speaking out against the regime- these were unsuccessful.
Aswany is also a very outspoken political activist and was very active in the Tahrir Square Protests where many protestors were shot and killed by Security forces. After the first protest and battle in Tahrir Square, Aswany became very prominent in the media, proclaiming the start of revolution and speaking against the Military council who was trying to stop the revolution and manipulate the new constitution being written. In the parliamentary elections during this turmoil, there was an upswing in Salafi Islamists who were elected. The protests began again later that December and the Army was “becoming even worse than Mubarak’s time” according to Aswany. Threatening actions started to be taken against Aswany again and again he refused to let that stop him from his political activism saying that a writer needs to be involved in the world that they are writing about.
Alaa Al Aswany is a very politically active writer whose books, essays and short stories as well as his own actions served to inspire the Egyptian people to rebel against corrupt or oppressive regimes to enact change.