Khalid Abdalla is a British-Egyptian actor. His credits include The Kite Runner, United 93 and Green Zone.
I was in Tahrir for many reasons. First of all as an Egyptian citizen it was my responsibility. I am an Egyptian who was born abroad, and part of the reason for that is because of the regime we had in place. My father had to leave for political reasons. I am the third generation in my family fighting for social reform, democracy and freedom for this country. I was in Tahrir because I wanted the regime to fall. And for the last two and a half years I have also been making a film – The Last Days of the City – right here in downtown Cairo. I have filmed almost every pulse of this place.
I take exception to the idea that this was a youth revolution. This was a revolution of the people; people of all political backgrounds, ages, and faiths; a popular revolution. Egyptians of all forms and shapes, and I count myself as one of those people. Of course the youth have been very important but it is patronising to dub it a youth revolution because it makes it seem like it was just a bunch of children who didn’t know anything about politics.
The force of what happened in Egypt for those 18 days was unstoppable. The revolutionary spirit was in people’s hearts and souls. They became empowered. That is a massive change in what this country is, and the next few years are going to be exciting because Egypt has changed the next century for the world.
I grew up with a great sense of democracy in the West, and within that there was a sense of hierarchy, but what Egypt has done has completely changed the narrative of democracy; even for the West. Everything has changed; not only Egyptians’ perception of themselves, but the world’s perception of Egypt.
One of the strengths of the movement was the fact that it had no centre. The people didn’t want a leader. The other side needed a spokesperson because they needed someone to talk to and negotiate with. But Tahrir didn’t, because the unity of the Square was far more important. That was where its power and impact stemmed from. The Square was able to speak for itself, “The nation wants the regime down.” It was very clear.
Yesterday was the beginning of the revolution. Today is the beginning of the resistance. Now is the time for rallying and fighting for what we believe in. There are clear demands that have not yet been met and it is a cause of worry. But there is still unity and therefore a desire to have them met. We are starting to learn what political participation means and we are learning its difficulties.
People are afraid naturally; this experience is new for us. But I don’t think we can expect the army, or anyone else for that matter, to make happen what we want to happen. That is for us to do. The fact that we managed to topple Hosni Mubarak means Midan El Tahrir stands as a threat to anyone who tries to oppress us again.
I’m incredibly proud of the Egyptian people, I’m incredibly proud to be Egyptian. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done and I’m extremely optimistic. But the hard work starts now. And I’m not stopping.