Asser Yassin is an Egyptian actor whose credits
include El Waad (The Promise), El Gezirah (The Island), Zay El Naharda (A Day Like Today) and Rasael El Bahr (Messages from the Sea).
This revolution happened because the people wanted change, freedom and a better Egypt. No one before January 25th was truly proud to be an Egyptian. We were not being treated as first class citizens or even as human beings. Every citizen has certain rights and they should hold on to them. Whenever things in this country were hard for me, like many Egyptians, I would immediately think of leaving and living a better life abroad. But my father taught me to always have hope, and the old regime didn’t want us to have hope. It just wanted to exist at any cost. During my time in Tahrir, I decided I would never again act if the old system survived.
We were not imitating Tunisia. They were a great inspiration but we did it entirely differently. Our revolution was a peaceful one until the police got involved. And although I personally was confused at first, it was the persistence of those in Tahrir that made me finally make up my mind to support the revolution.
On Friday January 28th, I went with my brother and a group of friends to join the protest in front of the Mostafa Mahmoud mosque. There were many artists and celebrities, and though it was a peaceful protest at first, when we got close to Tahrir, the police attacked us with tear gas bombs and rubber bullets. Yet we still continued. Right before we reached Tahrir, we found the great Egyptian actress Mohsena Tawfik – who must be 80 years-old now – heading to Tahrir to join the protests alone! We took her with us and as we arrived in Tahrir, some people were praying and my brother and some friends decided to pray with them. While we were still praying, the police started attacking again, and a tear gas bomb was dropped right in front of us. To my surprise, I found Mohsena, who could barely breathe, saying, “Don’t run, keep standing, they’re bastards, don’t you run!” At that point we couldn’t help but cry and we all realised that freedom is our right and we would not be scared anymore!
Tahrir became more than just a square. It was a city in and of itself, with people from all walks of life protesting peacefully together. It witnessed solidarity between Muslims and Christians, both praying shoulder to shoulder and both protecting and respecting each other. After seeing all that, and with people all over the world wishing they were Egyptians, I am proud to be Egyptian. I slept in Tahrir every day until Mubarak resigned and I was prepared to die for this revolution.
There’s a quote I love by Naguib Mahfouz that in my opinion really reflects this revolution: “The present is a light that flickers between two darknesses.” This revolution will light up both our future and our past.
To those who said the country was put on hold because of this revolution I ask them: How many times have we been stuck in traffic for hours because some minister or high powered government official was on the road? How many years has Egypt been totally paralysed under this corrupt regime!? And to those who are worried that the country will now descend into chaos, I tell them you are wrong. When Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar El Sadat were murdered, the country didn’t go into chaos. We should not fear chaos, we should fear corruption, and the corruption would never have ended unless the President stepped down.
I don’t have a certain leader in mind, we need to see what the candidates have to offer, then we can choose. But I have great expectations for the future of Egypt. Now we can have the Egypt we want, and we have to all work together to rebuild our country; just like we worked together to protect our homes and our families.
I am currently acting in a number of short films that tell the story of the revolution and reflect different points of view. And now that there are no limits any more, and with the whole world watching us, I’m very optimistic. Now is the time for each one of us to start cleansing ourselves and start rebuilding Egypt. It is not the time to judge, it’s time to rise up as a nation.