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Liberation Square

Author: Thalia Beaty
March 29, 2012
Baraza Ijtihad

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Ashraf Khalil's Liberation Square offers a gritty and engrossing account of the events that took place in Egypt in 2011, using the voices of both Egypt's most prominent political observers and the activists who risked everything in pursuit of an ever-elusive dream. Khalil, who has covered regional politics from Cairo, Jerusalem, and Iraq for a variety of publications over the past 15 years, adds his perspective to the narrative, allocating praise and blame in careful doses. An Egyptian-American raised in the States, Khalil's personal stake in the outcome of this upheaval makes him a unique interlocutor. As such, Liberation Square is not simply a catalogue of Egypt's revolution; rather, Khalil, who is not afraid of colorful metaphor or bawdy language, calls for systemic change. Delving into the psychology of the uprising, Liberation Square illuminates both how corrupt Mubarak's regime had become, and how improbable the success of the uprising to oust it was.

Khalil begins with a historical look at Mohammed Hosni Mubarak's rise to power. A stolid and uninspiring air force general, President Anwar Sadat appointed him vice president because he was not a threat. Sadat's abrupt assassination unexpectedly pushed Mubarak to center-stage, where his risk-averse and unimaginative nature suited all comers–the military, the United States, and Mubarak's Arab counterparts So, he remained for 30 years.

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