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July 29, 2011

A New Egypt: A Book Review

Hassan Ibrahim

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An inside perspective is often the most interesting because as an outsider we often miss out on the intimate details that make a story complete. "A New Egypt: The January 25th Revolution - With an Eyewitness DVD" by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, is one such inside perspective.

A New Egypt not only gives us an eyewitness account of the first 100 days of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, but also the political views of an Egyptian-born Canadian academic.

Dr. Elmasry is a Professor of Emeritus of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo where he has worked for over 35 years.  Although not classically trained in politics, he has through his many Islamic based organizations, gained attention as being a political influence on Canada’s approximately one million Muslims.

This is perhaps what adds to the unique viewpoint of his book.  Although he is Egyptian-born, he has spent the last 40 years that have led up to the revolution as an Egyptian observer living in Canada.  He even says that at times he felt guilty about “not participating on the ground and more importantly taking risks”.

It was actually a coincidence that Elmasry “was in Tahir Square during the revolution.”  This allowed him to witness (and videotape) firsthand the apex of the Egyptians’ struggle for “Dignity, Democracy, and Social Justice”.

An important 78-minute DVD, of some of the protests is included with the book.  It documents such things as “protestors battling security forces on Friday January 28th on Kasr El Nile Bridge” which was shot from Elmasry’s 17th floor balcony of a Tahrir Square hotel he was staying at the time.

Dr. Elmasry captured one of the most influential videos of the Egyptian revolution. An edited clip was rebroadcasted by major news channels including Al Jazeerah, CNN, and BBC:

Dr. Elmasry is optimistic about the future of Egypt’s Revolution and proud of his native home. On the back cover of his book we read: “"Egyptians have inspired us, and they've done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence  ... We must educate our children to become like young Egyptian people." - President Barak Obama, speaking about the January 25th Egyptian Revolution.”

A New Egypt is made up of many of Elmasry’s “weekly columns published by Some were written post Egypt’s January 25th Revolution of 2011 and others, still relevant, were written before.”

The articles cover many topics that relate to the Egyptian Revolution, including such titled articles as “The Brilliant Arab Youth”, “Zionists Smearing Arab Revolutions” and “Mubarak is Out, No Thanks To the U.S.”

As you may conclude from these examples this book will make you either nod your head in agreement, or shake your head in disagreement, depending on your political associations.

What I would hope wouldn’t be disagreed with is the inspiration for A New Egypt, which is “all the Egyptians, especially the youth, who for the last 30 years called for dignity, freedom, democracy and social justice”.  It is the articles that are inspired by the Egyptian people, and their struggles, that act as the glue that keeps Elmasry’s book together.

An example of one such article is “Asmaa Mafouz, a Woman Behind Egypt’s Pro-Democracy Revolution”.  In it Elmasry describes Mafouz, “a 26 year old Egyptian woman…a leading figure in Egypt’s three-year old democracy movement”.  As Elmasry notes, “she is considered one of the most important symbols of the January 2011 pro-democracy uprising in Egypt”.

I consider these articles the most important aspect of Elmasry’s book, because not only do they tell the story of some of the revolution’s leaders, but they also tell stories that the main stream media has chose to ignore completely.

The “Mafouz” article is contrasted with some articles that I would consider a stretch as far as relevance goes.  That is not to say that an article such as “Muslims are Civilization Builders” isn’t educational, but it lacks the direct connection to A New Egypt’s main focus.

Of course I would still highly recommend this book and therefore you can be the judge of the subject matter yourself.

The book is available from The Canadian Charger:

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