Marie-Jeanne Berger: Meeting Amal Sharaf, 6th of April Movement

Posted on August 12, 2012 by

Photo: David Degner

In the face of camel battles, gunfire, arrests and torture, Amal Sharaf and her comrades in the 6th of April Youth Movement were at the forefront of protests that led to millions of Egyptians to take to the streets to oust President Mubarak from his 30-year dictatorship. One year later, she talks about revolutions and the future of politics in Egypt.

Marie-Jeanne Berger: Why did you decide to help found the 6th of April?

Amal Sharaf : Because I hate oppression. I don’t like to see someone oppressed, who doesn’t know what to do, who doesn’t know how to take his rights. I can’t see oppression in the streets and stay silent. That’s why I am still active. As a group we thought: why don’t we make something strong, something that can fight this corrupted regime? We wanted to make something so we could have democracy in Egypt. We thought that it was not fair for the people of Egypt to live like this. People getting killed by emergency laws, Mubarak takes all of the money, people arrested at any time by anyone, protests against high prices, low salaries; many social justice cases.

Marie-Jeanne Berger: What kinds of difficulties did you face early on?

Amal Sharaf: At the beginning we were attacked a lot. Each protest that we made, we used to get beaten and we used to get arrested. They made files about us, each of us. When people attacked the [police] headquarters (after the revolution) I found 15 files about me! They said we were agents getting foreign funding, from the States and Iran, from Qatar and Syria, how come we didn’t know (she laughs)? And they’re the ones that take money, the ones that get trained– it’s not us!

Marie-Jeanne Berger: What do you think finally caused people to take to the streets?

Amal Sharaf: Because khalas, people were fed up. Of everything. Nothing was right in Egypt; they’re not losing anything even if they went to the streets. Even if I lose myself, even if I lose my children there was nothing else to lose.

Marie-Jeanne Berger: When did you know that something extraordinary was happening? 

Amal Sharaf: We went to the streets on that day not knowing if there would be a revolution. I got calls every second: “Amal, there [will] be a revolution.” There were millions in the streets: millions in Alexandria, Cairo, Mansoora, I couldn’t believe myself. I started crying, you know? Great. At this time we said it would be a revolution. We called for a revolution. But we didn’t know that it would actually be a revolution. It was a revolution.

Marie-Jeanne Berger Does your family support your activism?

Amal Sharaf: I am a single mom. My daughter, she’s shared every single protest, every single thing with me… My mom gets scared. She says, “Please don’t go. Take care of yourself and your daughter.” But after the revolution, khalas, she is convinced that what I am doing is right.