1 February 1985 |
|Alma mater||Cairo University|
|Known for||2011 Egyptian revolution|
Asmaa Mahfouz (Arabic: أسماء محفوظ, pronounced [ʔæsˈmæːʔ mɑħˈfuːz, ˈʔæsmæ-], born 1 February 1985) is an Egyptian activist and one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement. She has been credited by journalist Mona Eltahawy and others with helping to spark mass uprising through her video blog posted one week before the start of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. She is a prominent member of Egypt's Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution and one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution.
In 2011, she was one of five recipients of the "Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought" awarded for contributions to "historic changes in the Arab world." The other joint recipients were Ahmed al-Senussi, Razan Zaitouneh, Ali Farzat and Mohamed Bouazizi of the Arab Spring.
Born in 1985 in Egypt, Asmaa graduated from Cairo University with a BA in Business Administration. She would later join several other young Egyptians in founding the April 6 Youth Movement. She currently works for a computer company.
Mahfouz has been credited with having sparked the protests that began the uprising in January 2011 in Cairo. In a video blog posted to Facebook on 18 January, she called on Egyptians to demand their human rights and to voice their disapproval of the regime of Hosni Mubarak. The video was uploaded to YouTube and, within days, went "viral". In an interview with al-Mihwar TV, she said that a week before 25 January, she posted a video to Facebook announcing that she would be going to Tahrir Square to protest. Mahfouz said that four other young Egyptians joined her, and that the internal security services quickly surrounded and moved the group away from the square.
Following this, she posted another video announcing her intention to go to the square again on 25 January, a national holiday in Egypt honoring police who died in a confrontation with British forces. In this video, she challenged Egyptians to take to the street, saying,
If you think yourself a man, come with me on 25 January. 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 25 January. Whoever says it is not worth it because there will only be a handful of people, I want to tell him, 'You are the reason behind this, and you are a traitor, just like the president or any security cop who beats us in the streets.'
Later in 2011, Mahfouz was arrested on charges of defaming the Egyptian military rulers for calling them a "council of dogs". She was referred to a military court, prompting activists, as well as presidential hopefuls such as Mohamed El Baradei and Ayman Nour to protest her being charged in a military court. Mahfouz was released on bail in the amount of E£ 20,000 (equivalent to approximately US$ 3,350), and after that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces renounced the charges against Asmaa as well as another activist, Loay Nagaty. Her attorney was Hossam Eisa.
On October 23, 2011, Mahfouz held a teach-in at Liberty Plaza, in a show of support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. When asked why she came to the OWS protest she replied, "Many of U.S. residents were in solidarity with us. So, we have to keep going all over the world, because another world is possible for all of us."