While culture under Mubarak was handed down by the state, today Egypt’s artists and intellectuals are more rebellious.
Previously, Mubarak took advantage of the state’s monopoly on culture. Even the country’s renowned novelist Naguib Mahfouz could barely scrape a living and was forced to worked as a government clerk on the side.
However, last week in Tahrir square Egypt’s opposition artists were out in force according to The New York Times. One enthusiastic participant was the novelist Alaa Al Aswany, best known for penning The Yacoubian Building.
Through a mixture of poetry, tech lingo and hieroglyphics, they told Mubarak to step down. The New York Times said: ‘A popular rhyming chant played with high and low forms of Arabic, explaining to Mr. Mubarak that “irhal” means “imshi,” a colloquial Egyptian word that might be best rendered in English as “beat it.”’
For a more literary take on Egypt’s Revolution, check out this book list featuring journalists, academics and novelists.