On January 18, 2011, a 26-year-old computer company employee named Asmaa Mahfouz posted a YouTube video calling on Egyptians to gather in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on National Police Day: January 25. After tens of thousands did exactly that, then-president Hosni Mubarak ordered Cairo’s Internet and cellular communications shut down. The protests continued anyway. On February 11, 2011, he resigned.
“Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire to protest the humiliation and hunger and poverty and degradation that they have had to live with for 30 years. Four Egyptians have set themselves on fire thinking that maybe we can have a revolution like Tunisia, that maybe we can have freedom, justice, honor and human dignity. Today, one of those four has died, and I saw people commenting and saying, ‘May God forgive him, he committed a sin and killed himself for nothing.’
“People! Are you not ashamed? I posted that I, a girl, was going down to Tahrir Square and I would stand alone. I would hold up a banner … I even wrote my number, so that maybe people would come down with me. No one came except three guys! Three guys, and three armored cars of riot police! And dozens of hired thugs and officers who came to terrorize us. They shoved us roughly away from the people. But as soon as we were alone with them, they started to talk to us. They said, ‘Enough, these guys who burned themselves were psychopaths!’ Of course, on all national media, whoever dies in protest is a psychopath. If they were psychopaths, why did they burn themselves at the parliament building?
“I am making this video to give you one simple message: we want to go down to Tahrir Square on January 25. If we still have honor and want to live in dignity in this land, we have to go down on January 25 … If you think yourself a man, come with me on January 25. Whoever says women shouldn’t go to protests because they will get beaten, let him have some honor and manhood and come with me on January 25. Whoever says it’s not worth it because there will be only a handful of people, I want to tell him, you are the reason behind this. Talk to your neighbors, your colleagues, friends and family and tell them to come. They don’t even have to come to Tahrir Square, just go down anywhere and say it: we are free human beings.”
From the pages of COLORS #88 - Protest.