To start with, I ask Denis what caused the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

As Denis explains, the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 was precipitated by the self-immolation suicide of the fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia. This inspired the Jasmine Revolution there, which in turn encouraged the Egyptian people to rise up.

An extract from Breathing Hope and Fear

The revolutionary movement grew largely out of anger at a permanent state of emergency law, rampant police abuses, the 30-year Mubarak regime and a 60% unemployment rate across the country. The median age in Egypt is 27, yet a group of elites and military opulently controlled most of the nation’s wealth. More than half the population earns less than $2 per day and the youth were angry, educated, but disorganised. Police emergency law bans made certain they would stay that way.

The police were known for arresting people without charge and subjecting them to brutal, torturous interrogations and detentions. According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International more than 18,000 Egyptian youth were held in prisons across the country on trumped up charges.

If one looks back just 15-years, there was only one source of information inside the country, Nile (or State) Television. It allowed the Mubarak regime (as well as regimes in Iran, Syria, even North Korea and Burma) to send out their wholly formed story without dissent. Indeed whenever a revolution struck, rebels would head to the State television HQ to broadcast their message/demands. For the most part people knew nothing else.

As the Internet grew it exposed people to websites and other information. But a computer was too expensive and beyond the reach of many Egyptians. This led to the rise of the social media networks Facebook and Twitter across Egypt. These social media platforms allowed large groups of people to speak freely and they encouraged the users to form groups. That made them irresistible as a platform not only for social interaction but also for dissent. And they were accessible on a cell phone, an essential tool for everyone in the Mideast and the rest of the developing world because it remains far easier to erect a mobile signal tower than to string land-based lines.

The protestors used these platforms to great success organising revolution:

@GSquare86‎ Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria…let the revolution drums roll down North Africa !! Down with all dictatorships

@DJAmenRa‎ RT @GSquare86: we will all take to the streets… 2011 WILL be different #Jan25 #Egypt

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Egyptian Revolution 10th Anniversary Series with Denis G. Campbell

In this tenth-anniversary video series, I sit down with Denis G. Campbell, author of Breathing Hope and Fear: Egypt Since 2011, to discuss what led up to the 25 January Revolution, what the key moments were during it, why it failed, and the learnings we can take from it. I also ask him directly about his book: why write about Egypt, and why use the innovative tweet-based style he did? Posting every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday until the 26th – and, of course, on 25 January itself – I attach a relevant excerpt from Breathing Hope and Fear.

  1. What Caused the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
  2. Why Did the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 Ultimately Fail?
  3. Why Write About Egypt?
  4. Why Did You Structure Your Book Like This?
  5. What Has Changed in Egypt Since 2018?
  6. What Has Changed in Egypt Since 2011?
  7. What Is the Most Memorable Moment of the 2011 Revolution?
  8. How Did You Come to Be Personally Involved in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
  9. Do You Have Any Other Works?
  10. One Key Takeaway for Westerners
  11. Could Another Egyptian Revolution Happen Soon?

About the author

Denis has provided Americas, Middle East and business commentary to global television networks (BBC, ITV, Al Jazeera, CNN, MSNBC), radio (BBC, China International Radio) and various magazines and newspapers for the last 14 years. An American/British journalist and author, he is based in Wales. Denis was significantly involved in covering the 25 January Egyptian Revolution at the time.

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