During the last year, I wondered what role Alaa Al Aswany was playing in the Revolution in Egypt [see my blog post of February 28, 2010]. The author of the excellent book [also a movie available on DVD] The Yacoubian Building, published a decade ago, revealed life in Egypt for what it was, corrupt, violent and intolerant - it was a mystery that its publication had been permitted.
There is a comprehensive article in The New Yorker of January 16, 2012. Alaa Al Aswany was in Tahrir Square almost every day during the revolution and saw protesters shot beside him. The Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik - a good communicator - was overwhelmed by our hero during a TV debate and resigned the next day. Aswany hosts a 'salon' which, since the Revolution, is attended by more than one hundred people every week, the subject is literature but politics come to the fore and this liberal, compassionate man has his say. I wonder how much influence he will have against the forces of Islamic fundamentalism.