Mohammed, the editor of the Revolutionary Socialists' weekly paper, talks to Judith Orr in Cairo.
The Revolutionary Socialists (RS) in Egypt are a recognised part of the revolution with a profile way beyond their size. They can be seen selling their paper on Tahrir Square with stalls and megaphones. Graffiti around Cairo advertises their website and slogans.
During the resurgence of mass struggle on the streets in November the Revolutionary Socialists were seen as being in the vanguard of the battle. Their red hard hats could be identified by everyone. Their membership has mushroomed since then.
At the same time leading members have been targeted and face investigation and serious charges of calling for the downfall of the state.
This complaint originated from a Muslim Brotherhood member, who withdrew his case after a mass public campaign of solidarity with the RS. But the state has decided to continue with an investigation into the members.
In the midst of all this the RS has produced The Socialist, a weekly paper. The week after the threats from the state they carried a centre spread with the headline, “We will continue to fight to save the revolution”. It included messages of support from other activists in the movement outside the RS.
Mohammed is the paper’s editor. He also appears to be the journalist, chief sub and designer. He is proud that the paper is produced in larger numbers, with more pages than ever before.
“We started our paper in 2006,” Mohammed explained. “From then until the revolution we published 49 issues. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak we have printed almost as many as that—35 issues.
“We started with one page folded, then four pages and now we have eight pages, sometimes we go to 12.
“We normally print 1,000 to 2,000 copies. For today’s anniversary we are printing over 5,000.”
The paper has gone through changes since the revolution, but Mohammed and his comrades want to go further.
“We want the paper to have more life in it,” he said. “We want to win new readers, students and workers—not just people who are already activists.
“We are trying to have more and shorter stories, and to use photos more. We want readers to feel it is their paper and send us stories and contributions.”
“Sometimes in the past it has said, ‘You must do this, you must do that,’ too often, as if we could open people’s heads and push the ideas in. That doesn’t work.
“We want to expose the lies the elites try to tell us. The rich claim that Tahrir and the revolution are ruining their lives.
“We did a short piece on an apartment in Zamalek, an area of Cairo five minutes by taxi from Tahrir, which was sold for 16 million Egyptian pounds. People laughed when they read it. ‘Their lives are not being ruined,’ they said.”
Some months before the revolution started the paper had made a shift in its international news. This had previously concentrated on the issues of Palestine and the Iraq War.
“Instead the paper started to concentrate more on the struggles of workers and the poor across the Arab world,” said Mohammed.
Little did they know that they would shortly be covering revolutions—including one in their own country.
“This time last year, on the evening of 24 January, I asked an old activist who had been a Communist for decades if he thought what had happened in Tunisia could happen here in Egypt.
“He said no, it was not possible. Within hours we were starting the battle that brought down Mubarak after almost three decades.
“We want all those in this struggle to see our paper as their paper.”