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Watch the new Freedom Collection interview with Sally Sami, an Egyptian activist who has dedicated a decade of her young life to the protection of human rights. After graduating from the American University in Cairo, Sami became involved in a number of advocacy movements in Egypt before relocating to London where she served as Amnesty International’s Regional Campaign Coordinator. Sensing a growing hunger for democratic change in her native Egypt, Sami returned to Cairo in 2010 unaware that she would become a player in the Arab Spring uprising that would alter the course of Middle Eastern politics. On January 25, 2011, dissatisfaction with the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak reached a boiling point; Egyptians, inspired by Tunisia’s example, flocked to the streets in mass protests against their government. As the uprisings started, Sami became a primary coordinator for the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protestors, and in her interview describes the experience of walking down a street fortified by Egyptian security forces just as demonstrations were planned to begin: “It was scary, the ambulances, the fire engines. Everything was getting ready for the protests. And I was like, ‘This is going to be crushed from the first minute. It is not going to happen.’ And I was tweeting, even, like, as I´m walking, telling people where the trucks are. And I was unlucky because all my colleagues were going down. So, we decided that I would be the coordinator.” Within a few weeks, the Egyptian people would chase Hosni Mubarak from power and end his decades-long reign. Even with Mubarak gone, Sami recognizes the challenges ahead and has become more engaged in Egyptian politics as a way to influence human rights policy. She now serves as the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s Secretary General for Civil Society Affairs and is committed to protecting the universal ideal of freedom worldwide saying, “[H]uman rights and democracy, it´s not about me alone. It´s not about this country alone. It is a responsibility of humanity. If you are violated in a different country, I will defend you. Because human rights do not belong to specific people.” Watch the 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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