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Watch the new interview with Mahmoud Afifi on the Freedom Collection. Afifi is an Egyptian democracy activist with the April 6th Youth Movement, a group formed in 2008 to support striking workers. Later, the organization transformed into a nationwide opposition network against President Hosni Mubarak. Afifi joined the April 6th Youth Movement in 2009 and founded the group’s chapter in Egypt’s Qalyubia Governorate. There he rallied youth to take part in various awareness campaigns and street protests against the government. As part of this strategy, he engaged the poorest segments of the population and strengthened their voice in the political arena. Following his success in Qalyubia, Afifi organized April 6th Youth Movement campaigns at the national level. As the government cracked down on these demonstrations, Afifi was arrested several times and even abandoned in the desert. He described such experiences saying, “I have been arrested four times from the demonstrations, they took us in the deportation car and drove for five or six hours till the demonstration ended. They took us to the desert, for example, the Cairo-Ismailia Desert or the Egypt Suez Desert, and threw us there at night.” Prior to the Egyptian Revolution that unseated President Hosni Mubarak, Afifi coordinated with other organizations encouraging citizens to participate in a January 25, 2011 demonstration in Cairo. On that day, Afifi marched to Tahrir Square with thousands of others demanding Mubarak’s resignation and a free Egypt. Thinking back to that moment in the square, Afifi said, “I remember that my friend, who was with me in the morning hiding the [Egyptian] flag in his clothes, came to me happily, hugging the flag and saying, ‘Mahmoud, I’m holding the flag in the center of the square! We were scared to show it in the morning but now we can hold it proudly in the center of the capital’.” The protests intensified and expanded nationwide. Almost three weeks later, Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power ending his 30 year reign. Looking forward, Afifi sees Egypt’s opportunities and challenges saying, “I am optimistic regarding the coming period…We know that this won’t happen in one night; on the contrary, we are in a stage of democratic transition that will take five to ten years so that we are able to build genuine state institutions.” Watch his interview here.
This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
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