Egyptian journalist Saeid Habib has released the first novel on the revolution unleashed in his country on January 25.
The book chronicles the different stages of the protests but also aims to change the stereotype about Islamists.
The novel, called “La ya Sheikh” (Arabic slang term for “Oh really!), tackles the different forms of oppression to which Egyptians were subjected before and during the revolution. This includes the detention of more than 15,000 political prisoners, applying the emergency law, and suppression of freedom of expression by state security staff.
Habib also talks about the way riot police dealt with the protests that started the revolution such the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and live bullets to disperse the protestors.
The novel aims at highlighting the latent abilities of the Egyptian people who were capable of ousting the regime.
“Neither I nor any of the protestors imagined that such a spontaneous revolution would take place,” Habib told AlArabiya.net. “The Egyptians discovered their capabilities and the results were amazing.”
Habib, who currently resides in Kuwait, pointed out the difference between the July 23 Revolution in 1952, which was staged by the army, and the January 25 Revolution in 2011, led by the people.
“The fact that this revolution was 100% from the people is what renders it unprecedented in Egyptian history.”
Habib criticized Egyptian media in for tarnishing the image of Egyptians who adher to Islamist trends and said that his book aims at challenging the stereotype of religious people.
“The novel does not side with Islamist trends, yet it portrays a realistic picture of Islamists and shows that they are ordinary people, not different from other Egyptians as the media wanted Egyptians to believe.”
The novel, Habib added, tackles the violent repression of Islamists and the assassination of several Islamist leaders during the 1990s, like Maged al-Otaifi and Alaa Mohei al-Din.
“The revolution is credited for making Islamist movements, like the Muslim Brotherhood, appear as a national power.”
Habib explained that Egypt’s Interior Ministry had been hindering the foundation of any Islamic-oriented political parties like al-Wasat (The Center) and The Islamic Reform Party.
Saeid Habib is the son of Dr. Kamal al-Saeid Habib, a prominent member of the Jihad movement who spent 10 years in jail and was put under house arrest after his release.
“I dedicate this book to my father,” he said. “My father has always dreamt of justice and was ready to die for his dream.”
Interior Ministry oppression
Habib accused the Interior Ministry of taking part in the rigging of parliamentary elections and giving almost all parliament seats to the ruling National Democratic Party.
“When people were deprived of the right to make their voice heard through their representative in parliament, they found no way except taking to the streets and staging a revolution.”
According to Habib, one of the main achievements of the revolution is the condemnation of the State Security, the department in the Interior Ministry that is known for suppressiing any opposition to the regime.
“I bet there isn’t an Egyptian house without some story or another about the violations committed by State Security.”
Habib also called for cancelling the emergency law, which gives the Interior Ministry the right to arrest people without charge and to detain them for years without trial.
“Egyptians will only feel free after the emergency law, which is applied nowhere else in the world, is cancelled. Only then will Egyptian citizens no longer be humiliated on a daily basis by the police.”
(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)