Arab Spring

Asmaa Mahfouz (b. 1985) is an Egyptian activist, responsible for sparking the mass uprising that led to the 2011 Egyptian revolution. She is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement.

After her video which encouraged Egyptians to stand up for their basic human rights and fight the Mubarak regime, over 50,000 protesters followed her lead in Tahrir Square, Cairo. She received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for her contributions to “historic changes in the Arab world”.

Manal al-Sharif (b. 1979) is the woman responsible for the campaign aimed at giving women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. To initiate this movement, she filmed herself driving in the country, where it is illegal for women to do so; she was detained and released on bail on the condition of ceasing activity and not talking to media. Still, she remained an active voice pushing for women’s rights in the Middle East.

She is still campaigning heavily on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook for the loosening of Saudi Arabia’s strict legislation, despite the risk associated with these activities. She was awarded the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent by the Oslo Freedom Forum in 2012.

SYRIA. Aleppo governorate. Aleppo. September 20, 2012. A wounded woman still in shock leaves Dar El Shifa hospital. Dozens of Syrian civilians were killed, four children among them, in artillery shelling by Syrian government forces in the northern Syrian town.

This picture was part of a larger portfolio of images from Syria by AP photographers that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

Photograph: Manu Brabo/AP

Egypt’s January 25 Revolution in Photos

Inspired by The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters swept through the streets of Egypt on the 25th of January, 5 years ago, demanding an end to the corruption and Mubarak’s 30 year rule as President.

25 January 2011: An anti-government protester defaces a picture of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria [Stringer]

26 January 2011: Riot police clash with protesters in Cairo as thousands of Egyptians defied a ban on protests by returning to Egypt’s streets and calling for President Hosni Mubarak to leave office [Goran Tomasevic]

A protester holds up a banner in front of a line of riot police in downtown Cairo.  [Unknown]

28 January 2011: A protester stands in front of a burning barricade as police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo in a fourth day of protests

28 January 2011: An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo, Egypt [Lefteris Pitarakis]

28 January 2011: A man tries to protect himself with an Egyptian flag as police fire water cannons at protesters in Cairo

A masked protester throws a gas canister towards Egyptian riot police, not seen, near the Interior Ministry during clashes in downtown Cairo. [Tara Todras-Whitehill]

28 January 2011: A protester watches an Egyptian Army armoured vehicle burn in Cairo after President Hosni Mubarak ordered troops into Egyptian cities in an attempt to quell growing mass protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule

28 January 2011: Egyptians gather around the burning headquarters of the ruling National Democratic party (NDP) in Cairo [Khaled Desouki]

A graffitied smiley face on a wall constructed by the military to impede protesters. [Amru Salahuddien]

29 January 2011: The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic (NLD) party burns after it was set ablaze by protesters in Cairo [Yannis Behrakis]

Riot police use water cannons on protesters trying to cross the Kasr al-Nile bridge. [Peter Macdiarmid]  

30 January 2011: Protesters in Cairo hold a banner featuring a cartoon calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down [Asmaa Waguih]

31 January 2011: Egyptian film star Omar Sharif points to Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, in Cairo, Egypt [Lefteris Pitarakis]

31 January 2011: A protester holds a placard depicting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as Adolf Hitler in Cairo’s Tahrir Square [Yannis Behrakis]

1 February 2011: Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators march in Alexandria, Egypt [Ahmed Muhammed]

1 February 2011: An Egyptian man sits atop one of the lions at the entrance of Kasr El Nil Bridge, leading to Tahrir Square [Zeinab Mohamed]

2 February 2011: A pro-Mubarak rioter riding on a camel clashing with anti-government protesters in what became known as the Battle of the Camel [Chris Hondros]

6 February 2011: A Muslim holding the Quran (left) and a Coptic Christian holding a cross are carried through opposition supporters in Tahrir Square in Cairo [Dylan Martinez]

8 February 2011: Egyptian anti-government protesters perform the evening prayers as they gather at Cairo’s Tahrir square [Patrick Baz]

10 February 2011: Anti-government bloggers work on their laptops from Cairo’s Tahrir square on the 17th day of consecutive protests calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak [Patrick Baz]

10 February 2011: Anti-government protesters raise their shoes after a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saying that he had given some powers to his vice president but would not resign or leave the country [Chris Hondros]

11 February 2011: Egyptian women celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, at night in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt [Tara Todras-Whitehill]

11 February 2011: Celebrating the announcement of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in Tahrir Square [Jonathan Rashad]

18 February 2011: A girl attends Friday prayers in front of an army tank in Tahrir Square in Cairo a week after Mubarak resigned [Suhaib Salem]

18 February 2011: A woman waves an Egyptian flag on a balcony overlooking Cairo’s Tahrir Square as hundreds of thousands of people gather to celebrate the revolt that forced president Hosni Mubarak to step down [Mohammed Abed]  

SYRIA. Aleppo governorate. Aleppo. October 3, 2012. A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar El Shifa hospital. The boy was killed by Syrian army shelling.

This picture was part of a larger portfolio of images from Syria by AP photographers that won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

Photograph: Manu Brabo/AP

Mona Eltahawy (b. 1967) is an Egyptian-American journalist who has written for many prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, or The Miami Herald. Her writing focuses mostly on issues related to the Middle East, the Islamic world, Muslim-Christian relations and women’s rights.

She began her career in journalism as a news reporter, and served as a correspondent for Reuters. In 2003 she began managing the Arabic version of Women’s eNews, an independent website focusing on women’s issues around the world. Her 2015 book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution is a controversial piece about the misogyny in Arab society. She describes herself as a “secular, feminist Muslim”, and has spoken out against issues such as female genital mutilation and rape culture.