Cairo, Jan 22 (efe-epa).- A decade after the revolution in Egypt that overthrew the long-time dictator President Hosni Mubarak, many of those who took part in the 2011 Arab Spring popular protests have gone into exile. Some were forced to flee the persecution they suffered following the uprising, while others left out of frustration and disappointment that their dreams of a better life went up in smoke.
Particularly since the arrival of current president Abdel Fattah al Sisi in a military coup d’etat in 2013, which put an end to the first attempt at a civilian, democratic government that took over following the revolt, many of its leaders and protagonists have left their homeland, with no idea when they might return.
Tamim Heikal, 42, left for Paris in July 2017, after he felt “threatened” by the infamous Egyptian State Security apparatus, whose agents began calling him to arrange a meeting “to drink a coffee”.
“In Egypt, that means that maybe I would go and never come back,” he says in an interview with EPA-EFE.
Heikal took part in the protests calling for Mubarak’s ouster that began on 25 January 2011. By the 28th, the protests had grown into a full blown revolution.
That day, Heikal went to Tahrir Square where a protest camp had been set up, and there he stayed: “For me, I never left the square, because I have not stopped working in politics since that time,” he says.
After Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, after nearly 30 years in power, Heikal founded a political party, won a seat in the first post-revolutionary Parliament in Egypt and has continued in politics, even from exile in Paris, where he promotes freedom of speech in the Arab world.
“Of course there are no politics to do abroad, but there are a lot of activities that we can do to support our aims and dreams from Tahrir Square.”
He remembers how one night a “random guy” on the square convinced him that they could indeed overthrow Mubarak: “Until that moment I didn’t have the confidence that we would stay to that point, that we could do it, but the insistence I saw in his eyes and the confidence he had, (…) on that night, I believed that we could do it, he gave me this energy.”