Corporate lawyer Ragia Omran, 41, uses her free time to defended jailed activists in a time when there’s less freedom than under Mubarak.[i] She spent every day in Tahrir during the revolution, as seen in the documentary The Square. This is her way to keep the revolution alive. Only five feet tall and without hajib, educated in the West, she defends the dozens of secular activists jailed for demonstrating. Omran said after a court hearing for 25 activist men, “We are not going to accept that the police state will continue to run the country unchallenged. There have to be people who object to this, and we are going to be those people.” In retrospect, she realized they shouldn’t have left Tahrir and let the army run the country. Their main problem was not having a leader. She added that in the two years after the revolution, the police were careful not to get bad publicity; “Now they don’t care about image, the law or regulations.” The government conducts a media campaign branding secular activists as troublemakers or the pawns of foreign countries. At a time when people like Amal want stability, there’s little public support for the activists who are leaving the country, jailed, or just living their lives. Omran advised young rebels that protesting doesn’t work now because of zero public support. Her family and friends advise her to leave the country but she refuses.
[i] Hamza Hendawi, “A Lonely Fight Defending Egypt’s Jailed Dissidents,” AP/ABC News, December 14, 2014.