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Amro Ali


Run Mahienour Run

[Mahienour El-Massry. Image originally posted to Flickr by Lilian Wagdy.]

The distant shouts of a female voice rang louder and louder in my ear: “A complete revolution or nothing at all!” I turned around and caught my first glimpse of a young woman of average height, who was outsized by her vocal powers. I was taken aback, impressed, and snapped an image there and then of Mahienour el-Massry—or Mahie, as she is known amongst her circles. [Photo courtesy of Amro Ali.] That day was Friday 27 May 2011, in a protest march through Alexandria’s Port ...

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Marching to Sidi Gaber: Alexandria’s Epicenter of Upheaval

[Anti-Morsi protestors in Sidi Gaber Square on 3 July 2013 via Alexandria FB page]

A brief but long-lasting moment occurred on 19 May 2012, one that would awaken me to the changing realities in our neighborhood since the January 25 Revolution. It was late at night, while standing on my balcony overlooking Cleopatra Square, Alexandria, at the height of the first leg of the 2012 presidential campaign. A scuffle broke out between a group of political campaigners tearing up posters of candidate Amr Mousa, and shop owners and residents who supported Mousa. I ...

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Alexandria Re-Imagined: The Revolution through Art

[Revolutionary martyrs painted on walls of Alexandria. Photo by Amro Ali]

On 24 January 2011 – a day before the arc of Egyptian history would be altered – the film Microphone was screened. Microphone documents Alexandria’s pre-revolution underground scene of artists and musicians fighting a passive oppression that suffocates their ability to nurture their creativity. Khaled (played by Khaled Abol Naga), who has returned to Egypt from the US, wishes to aid the youth by providing them with a venue and funding for nurturing their talents. ...

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Sons of Beaches: How Alexandria's Ideological Battles Shape Egypt

[Revolutionary protestors clashing with security forces on the coast of Alexandria on 21 December 2012; Islamist activists protesting, with youth graffiti in the forefront. Design by Amro Ali]

A Salafist Muslim intellectual, overlooking an Alexandrian beach last summer, tells me over coffee: “The cosmopolitanism of our city [Alexandria] may look like it has died, but the skeletal structure of cosmopolitanism is still there. It is this structure that underpins the spread and acceptance of ideas, including Salafist ones, that makes this city a formidable force.” This “force” also makes Alexandria the vanguard city of Egypt's socio-political developments. A glimpse ...

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Brothers in the Hood: Egypt’s Soft Powers and the Arab World

[Egyptian police forces near barbed wires in Cairo. Image originally posted to Flickr by Moud Barthez.]

A Jordanian Islamist recently expressed his disappointment: “Egyptians are not giving President Mohammed Morsi a chance!” I responded, “Would you be this forgiving had Hamdeen Sabahi, a secular Nasserist, issued a decree that gave himself exceptional powers?” Silence. Irrespective of Morsi “rescinding” those powers, the continuing theatrics matters to a larger, if at times unacknowledged, constituency. Across the Middle East, Islamist offshoots are carefully watching the ...

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The President and the Fatal Trilateral Logic of US, Egyptian and Israeli Relations

[Tahrir clashes on November 26th. Image originally posted to Flickr by Jonathan Rashad.]

In 2007, Mohammed Morsi, then chairman of the Brotherhood’s political department and member of the Executive Bureau, complained of the inability of Washington to match its rhetoric on promoting democracy in Egypt. He said that Israel had no interest in a democratic Egypt as it “would do more to support the Palestinians.” Now Morsi, having brokered a Gaza ceasefire, has shown that his policy on the Palestinians is no more imaginative than Mubarak-era policies and, partly as a ...

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Power, Rebirth, and Scandal: A Decade of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

[Deposed President Hosni Mubarak, his wife Suzanne, the widow of the late President Anwar al-Sadat, Jehan, and Bibliotheca Alexandrina Director Ismail Serageldin oversee the Library. Design by Amro Ali.]

No other library in the world today courts as much international awe and controversy as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina – the resurrected library of Alexandria that was unveiled ten years ago to commemorate its forebear lost in antiquity to a fire. A UNESCO project that started off as an idea by Alexandrian academics in the 1970s quickly gained pace with the aim of becoming “the fourth pyramid,” as the toppled president Hosni Mubarak put it, and endowing the “Mediterranean ...

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Saeeds of Revolution: De-Mythologizing Khaled Saeed

[Khaled Saeed painting on the Berlin Wall by graffiti artist Andreas von Chrzanowski/Image by Joel Sames]

On 6 June 2012, I will join countless others in commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Khaled Saeed, the twenty-eight-year-old Alexandrian who was beaten to death by plain-clothed policemen. The screams of Khaled echoed through Egypt and sparked the rapid countdown to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Khaled was the neighbor down the street to whom I, admittedly, paid little attention. Yet his posthumous transformation from another face in the neighborhood to ...

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Amro Ali


Amro Ali is a Middle East analyst and PhD scholar at the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights, and the Department of Government and International Relations, at the University of Sydney. His research examines new spaces of politics and social movements in Alexandria. He has a Master of Arts with Honors in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies and a Master of Diplomacy from the Australian National University. He moderates the Facebook group "Alexandria Scholars". He also blogs at and Tweets @_amroali.