If Abdel Fattah or the other Egyptian nominee, Wael Ghonim, takes home the Nobel prize, it could be a bright spot in what has become a bleak post-revolutionary landscape for Egyptian activists. The majority of Egyptians have stood by as the military that promised to guard Egypt’s revolution has instead been censoring newspapers, raiding satellite television stations, beating and imprisoning protesters, extending the hated emergency law, and drawing out the timeline for the transition to civilian rule, leaving activists bitter and disappointed.
Abdel Fattah says that international recognition of activists like herself and others in the April 6 movement would also restore their reputation and disprove the military’s accusations that groups like April 6 are foreign agents seeking to undermine Egypt’s stability. But at home, her nomination has already touched off criticism, with some Egyptians complaining it de-emphasizes the grassroots nature of the uprising and overplays the role of social media.
Though Abdel Fattah is eagerly awaiting the announcement tomorrow, she’s also afraid – worried about the weight of responsibility that success would bring.
But she has little time to dwell on such worries. Sitting in her office at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, wearing a canary-yellow scarf, she fields phone call after phone call, dividing her time between planning political awareness activities with the Academy, promoting women’s participation in politics, tweeting, and preparing for a likely run for parliament herself with the Democratic Front Party.
The 33-year-old talks a mile a minute in English, and even faster in Arabic. She doesn’t look like a powerful woman, but she exudes confidence. She is gracious, but also assertive.