Wael Ghoneim
Wael Ghoneim in Tahrir Square

Egyptians take to social media to declare they participated in the January 25 revolution

Social media users have been sharing their memories of the January 25, 2011 revolution since Saturday using the hashtag, “I participated in the January revolution,” and challenging authorities to arrest them if they want to detain people for their involvement in the revolution. 

I participated in the January 25 revolution
"I participated in the January 25 revolution" Facebook page logo

Facebook and Twitter users remembered their experiences in the lead up to the fifth anniversary of the revolution. One tweeted, “I participated in the January revolution and saw a utopic city in Tahrir; the price was the blood of great young people, I bore witness and I will never forget, despite the monsters.”

Another tweeted, “Teach your children that the January revolution was the noblest, the fairest that took place in Egypt’s history and you should be proud that you were one of those who participated in Egypt’s dream, I participated in the January revolution.”

Well-known activist and one of the administrators of the "We are all Khaled Saeed" Facebook page, Wael Ghonim, wrote on Facebook, “The 25th of January was the first street protest I participated in. I arrived at the agreed time to Qasr al-Ainy, but unfortunately there were only around 50 people there and around 300 members of military security. I was disappointed and said desperately, ‘There can’t have been all this mobilization on the internet and only 50 people here.’ An old man heard me and he said to me confidently, ‘Don’t worry, in two or three hours people will come, you’re in Egypt my son, no one is on time’.”

In the lead up to the January 25 anniversary there have been multiple crackdowns on activists and independent institutions, particularly in downtown Cairo.

On January 14, Ahmed Abdel Gawad, managing editor of the privately owned news site Masr al-Arabia, was detained briefly and then released after the publication was raided. Poet Omar Hazek was also temporarily detained on Thursday at Cairo airport, when he attempted to board a flight to the Netherlands to receive an award for freedom of speech. He was later permitted to leave the airport with his passport and belongings.

A number of downtown art and cultural spaces have also been temporarily shut down or raided in recent weeks, including Townhouse, the Rawabet Theater and Merit Publishing House

The January 25 revolution hashtag has also been used in solidarity with those arrested for actual or alleged solidarity with the uprising that toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak. The Facebook page highlights Taher Mokhtar’s case in particular. Mokhtar was arrested from his apartment on Thursday, along with his flatmates, on charges of threatening to overthrow the regime. “I participated in the January revolution” released a statement in solidarity with Mokhtar, asserting that he was essentially arrested for his participation in the 2011 revolution.

“This is a statement from Egyptians who participated in the January revolution, the revolution for bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity, which has become a charge against revolutionaries. If you are among those accused of participating in the revolution, add your name to the more than 70 signatures on the statement released yesterday in solidarity with our colleagues accused of participating in the January revolution. #Freedom_For_Revolutionaries,” a recent post on the page reads.

Starting in early December, the Endowments Ministry began encouraging preachers to warn against participating in January 25, 2016 protests, asserting they are against Sharia Law. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also warned against participating in protests in a speech on December 22, claiming a new revolution could destroy the country.