What it looks like right now is that my parents’ generation has found yet another thing to screw over the young with. This class of people has consumed more, taken more, broken more, and polluted more than any generation of people in the history of the planet, while enjoying all the benefits of the most liberal, aspirational and economically kind conditions there have ever been. From that comfortable position they have refused to acknowledge what it might take to keep the world that beautiful beyond their own short, selfish lives: systematically fucking all mechanisms for tolerance, wealth redistribution, labour rights, free movement of people and environmental care once they’ve taken their share.

In this interview I look at what particularly marks out Mada Masr in the Egyptian media and cultural landscape at this point. The conditions Mada has experienced are not coincidental in a news media scene leveraged largely by strong partisan interests and built on highly sedimented institutional positions; yet what Mada has become is highly exceptional. This interview was conducted over two sessions in July and October 2013; firstly, soon after Mohamed Morsi's ouster and Mada's founding; secondly after an exhausting summer including the massacre at Rabaa al-Adaweya.

Photo: Virginie Nguyen

Given that he was almost unknown to the public 18 months ago, [Abdel Fattah] El-Sisi's rise has been meteoric. In 2012, as the youngest member of Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces, El-Sisi was promoted to commander in chief of the army by then-president Morsi. At the time, this move was largely viewed as a strategic way for Morsi to drive a political wedge into Egypt's sprawling and deeply powerful military institution. El-Sisi was seen as a good figure to bridge the government and the military — young, softly-spoken and not obviously entrenched in the pre-2011 Mubarak regime. At this point Morsi can hardly have dreamed that El-Sisi would not only depose him, but would even be poised to take his place less than a year later.

A lick of paint can cover neither revolutionary dissent nor gang rapes of indescribable intensity, so Tahrir remains resolutely, irredeemably ugly. Until something very profound changes, I’m not sure it should ever be pretty. Before it is pretty, it should be a civic space.

Photo: Alisdair Hickson, of memorial graffiti by Ganzeer depicting revolutionary martyr Islam Rafat Zinhoum

Blog: Joyous liberatory leaps into the ridiculous
February 2011

For those who have lived from instant to instant in Tahrir Square and other flashpoints of the Egyptian revolution, to describe it is to tarnish its main force: its instantenaeity, the ability for the times to change. This is a precious sensation for a country trapped for thirty years in a system where change came mostly through a kind of slow, infrastructural osteoporosis. 

Image: still from I Will Speak of the Revolution, dir. Nadine Khan, 2011