“What’s next,” I asked him in a late-night direct message tweet. “Mubarak resigns. Omar suleiman takes over interm government. only way out,” he replied. Moments later, he headed for Tahrir Square to deliver medical supplies to the injured. He never made it. He was intercepted by internal security, his car was destroyed, and he was briefly detained. His twitter account was hacked, his blog, The Rantings of a Sandmonkey, pulled down, and his phone stolen. That set off a flurry of tweets among the blogging community as people tried to find out where he was being held.
He would re-emerge the following morning, defiant, revealing his real name publicly for the first time. Days later, Sandmonkey—aka Mahmoud Salem—posted a manifesto for a new opposition political party on his reconstituted blog.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be an Egyptian,” journalist Dina Basiony, both a graduate of the Adham Center and head of some of its external training programs, told me in a message after Mubarak stepped down. “Some people used to feel strange in their own country as if they didn’t belong to it, now they own their country. Some people used to feel alone, now a sense of community among the millions overwhelms our senses and our understanding. Justice, fairness, hard work, human dignity, democracy are not new to us. They’re the ABC of our faith, beliefs and culture. They were covered by dust for a while, but will be brighter than light from now on, inshaAllah [God willing]. That’s what we believe in, that’s what we deserve.”
For our former students, the challenges ahead are huge. The politics of the coming months and years will be messy. Journalism will undergo a dramatic evolution. It will be a challenging time for them and a fascinating period for those of us with two degrees of separation from the revolution.
Everything has changed. As blogger Wael Abbas succinctly summed up in a tweet, “Mubarak has left the building!”