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Messages from Tahrir

Karima Khalil: Messages from Tahrir

  • Karima Khalil
  • Out now
  • English English
  • 90 EGP
  • Diwan Bookstores, AUC Bookstores
reviewed by
Cairo 360
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Karima Khalil: Messages from Tahrir

It’s been
almost six months since January 25th, and the Tahrir-themed books, art pieces
and films keep on coming. This could cause a certain sense of fatigue or
overload in some Egyptians, but every now and then a stellar project shines
among the rest.

Messages from Tahrir: Signs from
Egypt’s Revolution
is the
latest Tahrir-themed publication by AUC Press to fixate on the 18-day protests
that shook the whole country. The book’s simple formula is a winner with over
150 pages of photographs by 36 professional and amateur photographers who
participated in the protests. The photographs focus on the banners, posters and
signs held by the diverse protesters in Tahrir Square. One of the greatest
attributes of the Egyptian revolution was the sharp wit of the protestors; the
humour displayed in their posters proved a resilient and powerful tool in the
long days spent in the square, and this is perfectly captured in Messages
from Tahrir.

The
book’s editor is Karima Khalil, a medical doctor and an amateur photographer
who participated in the Tahrir protests and wanted to capture the spirit of the
square. Messages from Tahrir is
evocative and nostalgic for those who were there, and insightful for those who
weren’t.

It’s more
than just a coffee table book; Messages
from Tahrir
perfectly captures the fury, humour, despair and determination
of the multifaceted groups of protesters. Children, old men, people with
disabilities, grieving relatives, doctors and university professors; they are
all present in the photographs. Some faces you may recognise from your visits
to Tahrir; others are the products of good fortune when one of the 36
photographers captured a perfectly symbolic moment.

Slogans
like ‘Not for me, for my grandchildren’, ‘They Shot us with rubber bullets, We
will not despair, we will not submit’ ‘Freedom equals life’ show the bravery
and the determination of the protesters. Other posters like ‘Leave, I miss my
fiancée’, ‘Leave, my wife wants to give birth and the kid doesn’t want to see
you’ or ‘What curfew? You idiot, do you think I am a chicken?’ are among the
many hilarious slogans that could leave you laughing out loud.

The 36
photographers who contributed to Messages
from Tahrir
are just as diverse as the protestors in the book, and include
the likes of activist Hossam El Hamalawy, journalist Sarah Carr and
professional photographers Mohamed Gabr, Stefania Zamparelli, Mohamed Boraie
and Rania Helmy. Several amateur photographers provided material for the book,
including school student Mariam Ehab Soliman.

Little
fault can be found with Messages from
Tahrir,
save for the few awkwardly cut out photographs against a bright
yellow background that stands out from the seamless layout of images. All
photos come with captions translating the Arabic slogans or giving short
anecdotes on the photo subjects. The book opens with a short introduction
briefly detailing the 18-day protests and the events that unfolded.

This book
is highly recommended for anyone wishing to remember the humour, creativity and
determination of the people in Tahrir Square. All proceeds from the book’s sale
will be donated to the Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.

Like This? Try

Tweets from Tahrir, Tahrir Square: The Heart of the Egyptian Revolution, Egypt in the Era of Hosni Mubarak

Author Bio

Karima Khalil is a medical doctor who lives in Cairo with her husband and daughter. This is her first book.

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