Emma Hughes The years of organisation that lead up to the revolution often get overlooked but you’ve been an activist in Egypt for many years. Can you speak about the organisational work that led to the revolution?
Ola Shahba This revolution was built on ten years of organising. In 2003, when there were protests about the Iraq war we occupied Tahrir Square, but no one heard about it because we had to flee. That was the first time anti-Mubarak chants were heard. After this a continuation of movements happened – the Kefaya Movement for Change during the 2005 election, the movement for judicial independence, the April 6 Youth Movement event in 2008, the anti-torture movement and student movement – so we’re building on all of those. I started organising with a workers’ movement umbrella called Tadamon, or ‘Solidarity’ in Arabic. I was also in the Revolutionary Socialist Organisation. I was involved in Youth for Justice and Freedom – this was the main youth movement that was represented in the revolution.
EH Who are you organising with now?
OS After Mubarak had gone we saw it as a moment when a leftist movement should be formed. We needed to mobilise outside Tahrir, we couldn’t just occupy Tahrir. Some of us decided to form a little organisation of revolutionary socialists called the Socialist Renewal Current. This current recognised that we need a party that will bring us all together. Society is not ready for a radical party and we’re not strong enough to have four or five parties between us, so we need to unite. It is a mistake to think that we’ll only start a revolution with a revolutionary party – the revolution already started!