ثورة العقل

Revolution of the Mind

Mostafa Bassim

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In the aftermath of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, many of the country’s youth have learned hard lessons about the realities of civic activism, often being subjected to intense forms of political repression by the state. Ever since, Liberal youth has faced intense social repression from within their own communities when attempting to express progressive thoughts and ideas that run contrary to traditional practices and norms. “Revolution of the Mind” portrays the traumatic accounts of Egyptian youth have been subjected to civilian-led smear campaigns due to their criticism and/or reinterpretation of the dominant political and cultural order in the post-revolution era.

This project delves into the ways in which ordinary Egyptian citizens reinforce the state’s authoritarian model of all-out mind and body control. The type of tactics employed by the state to repress political dissidents are also often used by community leaders at a local level to guard against what are deemed as “dangerous” values.

Taking part in the revolution caused me to think critically in a way that led me to reject much of the social status quo pervasive in my community. However, I soon began to face opposition from neighbors for expressing non-traditional social beliefs when I began to more openly challenge societal norms on social media. My neighbors eventually took it upon themselves to tarnish my reputation within the community at large. I eventually found myself subjected to an unbearable form of both mind and body control. Since moving out, I’ve sought out other individuals who have undergone similar experiences. This photo series seeks to capture our stories, and has come to be known collectively as: Revolution of the mind

Egypt

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The revolution was an explosion of self expression. We were singing, dancing and drawing, and discussing our views and beliefs. We even organized a monthly street festival in a nearby square where we gathered – all ages –enjoying free performances of all arts and culture. After three years, our festival “fann midan” was banned.

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Ahmed Hassan expressed religious views that ran counter to that of the community in which he was born and raised. When his community found out about his religious views, they followed him to a coffee shop that he frequented and while he was walking back home, threw bricks at him in distaste of his religious views. In this photo, Ahmed is seen reenacting the scene.

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Authorities even demolished a lot of street cafes where we used to gather and discuss our dissenting views and thoughts.

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I left my home to find myself.

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On temporary release from prison, Nagy’s life is now on hold, suspended in a type of purgatory as he awaits his next trial in April, which will determine if he will serve out his two-year sentence, or if charges will be dropped.

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Mohamed has been accused of being an infidel due to his critical views about religion. His community took it upon themselves to correct his lack of belief. He said to me, “In Egypt, religion is like a bomb waiting to explode in your face… My parents gave me an ultimatum: adapt to our belief system, or leave the house.”

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Ahmed Nagy, an author and journalist, wrote a book in which a chapter depicts explicit sexual scenes using colloquial and slang words considered by society to be "violating the modesty of society." He was arrested and jailed for ten months because his work and chosen words were so shocking and challenged the moral fabric of society.

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Ahmed el Sheikh, a video journalist, was fired due to his open expression on social media regarding Egyptian social and political issues. Once his boss was made aware of El Sheikh’s views, he was asked to remove them and to stop further posts. Refusing, El Sheikh was terminated from his job at the news agency and now works as a freelance journalist.

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Houses are often in close proximity to one another, affording minimal privacy and an optimal environment for neighbors to easily–and often, quite literally–peer into your daily lives.

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Yasmin, when deciding to no longer wear the hijab, posted this photo on Facebook. Individuals from her community saw her post and reported it to her family, who in response, kept her imprisoned in the house for three months, collectively beating her daily until she was forced to wear the hijab in order to be let out in public again.

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Nour Hamed - When the revolution took over the streets of Cairo, many youths implemented the mentality for change within their own homes and families. Through her resistance against the status quo at home, Nour realized that a number of things had been forced upon her. She dressed as she pleased, hung out in “liberal” spheres. She eventually fled. Soon after, her parents held a friend of Nour’s hostage until she returned home.

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Yasmin, traveling via public transportation to her university, defiantly unveils her hijab in front of the prying eyes of metro riders.

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After the violent attacks, Ahmed was forced to move to Cairo, where he was arrested during a random police search, resulting in a six month stay in jail without trial. After his temporary release, he was forced to return to his home town, Minya, and became a prisoner confined to the walls of his own home due to fear of retaliation from the community once again.

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Mohamed Ali making a tea in his new home, where he now lives with two friends.

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After deciding to leave her parents house in order to gain control of her life, Nour was forced to roam the streets alone for two days, sleeping in local coffee shops, or ahwas, until she found temporary shelter with a friend.

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Having to endure unsolicited outcries from my community, due to my own personal beliefs, I was forced to leave my family and resettle in Cairo. Due to persistent and various forms of community harassment, I am not often able to visit my home and family, only returning roughly once a month.

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“Since leaving my family home, I’ve had to work day and night in order to cover my rent, food, and other basic necessities,” Mohamed says, while laying on his mattress after a long work day.

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Mostafa Bassim

Egypt

Mostafa Bassim is a Cairo-based photojournalist and documentary photographer covering political and social unrest within Egyptian society.

Mostafa's career in photojournalism began during his participation in the January 25th revolution in Egypt, where he documented firsthand the atrocities committed by the regime. Mostafa has covered various events, ranging from the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution to economic issues in the region. His projects focus heavily on the daily lives and occurrences of marginalized communities within Egypt. His photos have been featured in Al-Jazeera, The Washington Post, AP, and AFP.

www.mostafabassim.com