Citation
Interview with Arab Loufti

Material Information

Title:
Interview with Arab Loufti
Series Title:
Middle East Women's Activism
Alternate Title:
مقابلة مع عرب لطفي
Creator:
Loufti, Arab ( Interviewee )
لطفي ، عرب ( contributor )
Pratt, Nicola Christine ( contributor )
Place of Publication:
Cairo, Egypt
Publication Date:
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Israel-Arab War (1967) ( LCSH )
Government, Resistance to ( LCSH )
Socialism ( LCSH )
Anti-Imperialism ( UW-MEWA )
Marxism ( UW-MEWA )
Communism ( LCSH )
Socialism ( LCSH )
Trauma ( UW-MEWA )
Psychic trauma ( LCSH )
New Woman study group ( UW-MEWA )
Capitalism ( LCSH )
Fascism ( LCSH )
Islamic fundamentalism ( LCSH )
Old Left ( UW-MEWA )
اتفاقات كامب ديفيد (1978) ( UW-MEWA )
Lebanon ( LCSH )
Palestinian cause ( UW-MEWA )
Palestinian Arabs -- Civil rights ( LCSH )
NGOs ( UW-MEWA )
Non-governmental organizations ( LCSH )
منظمة غير حكومية ( UW-MEWA )
NGO-ization ( UW-MEWA )
Female genital mutilation ( UW-MEWA )
Female circumcision ( LCSH )
ختان الإناث ( UW-MEWA )
Sexual harassment ( LCSH )
Film-making (Motion pictures) ( UW-MEWA )
Motion pictures -- Production and direction ( LCSH )
Student movements ( LCSH )
Sīsī, ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ, 1954- ( LCSH )
السيسي، عبد الفتاح،‏ 1954- ( EGAXA )
Egyptian Communist Party ( UW-MEWA )
Ḥizb al-Shuyūʻī al-Miṣrī ( LCSH )
حزب الشيوعي المصري‏ ( UW-MEWA )
Tagammu ( UW-MEWA )
National Progressive Unionist Party ( UW-MEWA )
Ḥizb al-Tagammu' al-Watani al-Taqadomi al-Wahdawi ( LCSH )
حزب التجمع الوطني التقدمي الوحدوي ( UW-MEWA )
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Egypt -- Cairo Governate -- Cairo
Coordinates:
30.033333 x 31.233333

Notes

Abstract:
Arab was born in Sidon, Lebanon in 1953. Her father was a lawyer and her mother was a homemaker. Both her parents were open-minded. From a young age, she became politically active in Lebanon, joining a Marxist group and then the left-wing of the Palestinian resistance movement. Arab first travelled to Egypt in 1972 to study cinema and became active in the Egyptian student movement. She left Egypt for a few years as she was wanted for questioning for her political activism. She returned in 1982, when she married an Egyptian. During the 1980s, she became involved in the New Woman study group, which later became the New Woman Foundation. Arab is very critical of the NGO-ization of the New Woman group and other leftist groups. As of the interview, Arab still had hopes that the Egyptian revolution could produce real change in Egypt by encouraging and developing popular democracy and not relying on central leaders. ( en )
General Note:
Funding : Women's Activism in the Arab World (2013-2016). This project, funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, examines the significance of middle-class women's activism to the geo/politics of Arab countries, from national independence until the Arab uprisings. It was based on over 100 personal narratives of women activists of different generations from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
General Note:
Interview conducted on: 29 December 2013
General Note:
Duration: 53 minutes and 46 seconds
General Note:
Language of interview: English
General Note:
Audio transcription by Captivate Arabia, Amman, Jordan , info@captivatearabia.com
General Note:
آسيا -- مصر -- القاهرة -- القاهرة
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Pratt, Nicola Christine : URI http://viaf.org/viaf/49147457

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Warwick
Rights Management:
© 2013 the Interviewer and Interviewee. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
Interview with Arab Loutfi
2014
TAPE 1
Nicola Pratt: When were you born?
Arab Loutfi: I was born in Lebanon in 1953, in Sidon, south of Lebanon.
NP: Did you grow up in Lebanon?
AL: Yes, I grew up in Lebanon. And... I only came to Egypt... and I used to come to Egypt
when I was a child because my sister... elder sister was living here. So I'm very much in
Egypt. But I... actually, first time I came to settle for some time it was in 1972, to study
cinema but I used to go and come to Beirut. And then I went back to Beirut in 1976-
1977 during the war, then I came back to Egyptian 1982. So since 1982 I settled in Cairo
more. But I mean all the ... but all the time there's something between Cairo-Beirut or
Lebanon and Egypt. I'm moving around, here and there.
NP: Your parents are Lebanese?
AL: Yes, my parents are Lebanese. Yeah, yeah, I mean... It was something really... I
mean, maybe... Egypt, somehow was in a way... the people never felt that it's another
country. You know? We have this kind of... it's like as if Cairo is the capital of the Arab
world, not only Egypt. Do you know what I mean? And there was this kind of familiarity
with moving around, you know? It's not that you're going to another country. It's as if
you're moving in the same... It's something people don't understand if they didn't live in
this area, somehow. Actually, this is why you find that many... many fields there were
lots of Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqi who lived in Egypt. Who were part of the Egyptian
community. Anyone who is informed, he knows that. In literature, in art, in everything.
What do you want me to do?
NP: Can I ask, what did your parents do?
AL: My father was a lawyer and he was in the judicial system after that... He began as a
lawyerthen he was like, this kind of like... what do they call it? The Higher Judicial
Institute. What do you call it in England? I don't know. In Lebanon they call it the
Appeals Court. Where they file appeals. It's the highest court.


NP: The highest court.
AL: Yes, so, he was in that... in the judicial system but he was a very progressive person
actually. He was very open minded, very much... very open minded... very patriotic in a
way, at the same time he was more affected by very ... you know, if you can call it liberal
left ideas. And he was very... believes in equality, pro women, believes in... he's against
injustice. He's with socialism in a way but in a very reformist way. Not radical, like
reformist. Yeah. And my mother was a very open minded woman, very strong character.
She didn't work but she was a very... very strong presence. She has her own strong
presence. Can I talk.... (inaudible) I mean I was brought up in an open minded house.
Relaxed. Also interested in culture and arts, movies, everything. I mean it was really a
very relaxed atmosphere to grow up in.
NP: What's your earliest memories ... most vivid memories of events happening in
Lebanon? Political events?
AL: Look, where we grew up with ... in politics. I mean I'll tell you since I was a child.
Because... My brothers and sisters are older than me. They're... the youngest is seven
years older. And others 10, 15, 17 years older. I grew up they were already active and at
the same time my father was very much into the internal politics. At that time also the
anti-colonialist movement was very strong in our area and also, you know there was the
occupation of Palestine and so... it's kind of... all the movements started or the rights...
for return of the Palestinians and to liberate Palestine and at the same time there was
the socialist movement growing also. So I was living in this atmosphere of who .... I'll tell
you something very interesting because, I already grew up in a very liberated
atmosphere that, even when I began to cope with ordinary people... the people who are
living within the system, I was always getting chucks (??) because, for example I knew
that women are equals and then we discovered that people who are dealing with
women are not equals. You know, for me, the discovery was the opposite. It's not I'm
discovering liberation it was, we are in an atmosphere of people who all think in an
open minded way and then, through my friends in school or through people I met in
many places, you begin to discover that there are people who think differently. To feel
very strange that it's ... why they are thinking that way. You know, it was... and actually
that was very good in a sense that I mean, It's not that I was fighting for new ideas but
I'm not sure if they can be ... if they can be...realistic. I always knew that you can live as
a liberated person. This is why for me it was more shocking why people refuse this, you
know what I mean? It gives you more strength in a sense that really, you're sure that
people can live in a different way, they can deal more relaxed and as many women are
class wise or even, for example, in our house, there were no discrimination attitude


between classes. So when you find people dealing in a different way you feel it's very
strange. I mean... I was in a very... in an atmosphere that helped me to develop in a
healthy atmosphere for thinking and so on. And then, when I was 13 actually, 1967 war
happened and the resistance began and so there was also the resistance movement,
which added to this kind of equality relations. People became more rebellious against
oppression in the camps in the popular areas. The students and so there was an
atmosphere of rebellion. And this built so much freedom for the society. Actually, my
youth, till the late twenties, in a way, I was living within the context of a very... I want to
say something. There was a strong movement at that time but the movement was more
optimistic in the sense that there was a certain belief that the struggle is going on, that
there's anti-imperialist emotions and anti.... There are socialist attitudes but people
believed at that time that we are going on the... moment of change. The people
believed that there will be victory. And so, till the... late 1970's, the whole atmosphere...
I lived in an atmosphere was there was a certain positive attitude toward the change.
People were more assured, more relaxed with their ideas and also more relaxed with
the feeling that a different society can be built easily. And, actually, we were believing at
that time as if all these actionary (???) regimes are just... it's their final moments. Of
course, the defeat in 1982, distracted all this attitude. There was a big change after it.
Because, the defeat of the resistance in Lebanon, the Israeli occupation, then the Soviet
Union failing, then all the change in Eastern Europe, A different era began, people...
there was something that... as if it was lost like an earthquake in 1982. At that time of
the... So, the atmosphere I grew up in it was full of struggle but the struggle was people
were in a moment of real change. This is why, now, when I see the young people,
they're very optimistic, which is very good, and you feel that they believe that the
change will happen you know? I mean, and I... I'm very sympathetic with this but you
know, people, I feel they should be more aware of what's happening around because it's
not only this picture, we have to see .... That's it. I grew up at that time. I was... whether
in Lebanon or in Egypt there was political movement. In Lebanon there was the
resistance movement. It was more organized, more military also. And the struggle was
more... more violent in a sense. In Egypt it was more a popular movement but there was
a big link at that time between the two in the struggle. Of course, there was a big link,
until now there's a big link between anti-imperialism and the struggle for socialism for
the socialists, like me. I... we believed in a... that we can't achieve a real socialist society
with justice and... without defeating imperialism. And this caught on to with many
groups who are not really socialists but at least they were anti -imperialists in that sense
and they wanted a chance for liberation, for change. Till now, this problem is going on
now but it's becoming more complicated because of the world wide economy is
becoming more complicated, imperialism is becoming more complicated by the way... I


think you feel it even in England. It's not the same simple story of struggle between
classes then... It's taking more very complicated ... network of interests that interacting
in a way that you feel that in a way, Saudi Arabia is somehow inside... into the Israeli...
into the American. You know, it's no more... I'm talking outside... That's it. What do you
want more?
NP: Did you participate in the movement in Lebanon?
AL: Yes, of course.
NP: How?
AL: Yes, I was, from the beginning, since I was 13-14. I joined.... I was in the beginning
with the Marxist group, Lebanese, then I became part of the Marx... I mean, left wing of
Palestinian resistance. Yeah, and... I was always in the left, I was always organized. I was
in the organized movement all my life, nearly all my life. Even when I'm not in
something now, it's just because you need to find what's going on. But I believe that... I
believe that an organized movement is very important to change. You can't work alone
independently as a human being without being part of a movement. Maybe now, there
are discussions... what kind... how movement. How can movement's change from
what's going in the sense of learning from old mistakes and trying to build something
different. But definitely people need to organize. I agree with this completely. And I., for
me .... it was... change is part of my life. For me I believe that politics is ... I am in a way a
political animal (??) Even when I work cinema, even when I work teaching, when I work
with anything I'm always .... I have to see it through political things because our lives
was politics. I mean we never lived a normal life because we... for example Lebanon was
part of Big Syria, Big Syria was Palestine, Lebanon... suddenly they cut old Syria into
different countries so you find yourself there's Lebanon there's ... and then Palestine
was taken by the Zionists and then you find that this affects your daily life by the way in
so many ways. People it changes destinies. And so you can't be ... you can't deal as if
you're outside politics. It affects your social life, economic life, your relations with
people, it divides countries, it divides families, and then you find that more and more
and more they're cutting the area into pieces. Now, we, for example, in this area, we
don't have any country that you don't have borders closing and not only that. For Arabs,
it's more difficult for Arabs to move between Arab countries than an American to move
into an Arab country. For example, if I want to travel now, you find for Saudi Arabia you
have to have a visa, for, I don't know... Emirates you have to, for Syria, for Lebanon,
People don't feel... the area is fragmented and you are trapped inside walls. And it's
getting... it's becoming claustrophobic. You know, this area. It affects our lives. You feel
it. Of course, I was always in politics, I was always in the movement, I was.. I never


worked in something independent from other. When I'm working on the women's
questions it's related to the whole politics, not only women. If I'm working on the
working class movement or popular movement you link this and relate it to the whole
map of politics. You can't even put yourself in one category. You are in all these
categories, inside it. Yes, come on. No, I think once I wrote something related to cinema
by the way, like ... something., she was making a book about women but I mean I wrote
certain testimony about how I grew up and so on. It's in English I can send it to you by
email. I have your email, yes.
NP: I'll give it to you at the end just in case.
AL: Yes, you sent me an email
NP: No, I called you.
AL: No? No, you called me. Yes. So I'll take your email and send it to you. Yeah, because I
mean, there's certain like... reading how I began by beginnings in relation to ... Also, I
wrote something about trauma and cinema in relation to my country but this is in
Arabic. You don't read Arabic?
NP: I can read Arabic
AL: I can send it to you. Yeah. That was for Alive, the.. I don't know. But I mean because
it was about trauma and cinema. How it affects your relations in our family (???) It
touches this area (??) When you are in a certain society, how all ... you can't have your
own ideas without linking to what are the traumas you're living inside. Yes. What do
you want to know more?
NP: In 1972, you came to Egypt for cinema school?
AL: Yes, I came to cinema school and at that time I was in the Lebanese political
movement and then here I began to become linked to the student movement in Egypt
and I was part of the political groups that were there. There was very high relation
between Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian left wing groups in a way. There was an
organized relation. So I was active within this movement. It was more... at that time it
was a secret movement. It wasn't... it wasn't like now. I mean most of the organizations
were secret organizations. And actually this is why in the late 1970, after Camp David ...
I was ... they wanted to arrest me because of this, because of what they knew about me.
So I left Lebanon. I wasn't caught here but I was not... They put me on blacklist to Egypt.
I stayed for about 5 years or 4 years I couldn't come to Egypt. But when I married my ex-
husband, because he's Egyptian, they had to allow me in as the wife of an Egyptian.


because there's no case. They don't have a case, it's information so they can't... if they
don't want to allow me they have to have a case and they didn't have., there was no
case, so they had to let me in. But they began stopping me at every time and I asked me.
They called me for interrogations and every time... it was not settled till I got my
Egyptian citizenship. After getting the citizenship they can't continue doing that because
now you're Egyptian. So... and then it went... and also there was a political change also
because... That's when things changed and... so I settled, I was in Egypt after that. I have
two nationalities Egyptian and Lebanese. Since 1984 I think.. 1983-1984. Yeah. But., and
I stayed active but changed ... even in Egypt there was something beginning to change
more and more. Many of the movements were collapsed within... after the big political
changes. Actually, lots of., even in Europe I think this happened. Many leftist groups
became more fragmented. Different points of view about this and there was a big
struggle here about how to continue. There was this new liberal era and many began to
... many of the old left became ... many of them linked some way or another to the
regime in different ways. Some people became more linked to the NGO system, which is
very much related to the West in a way and also, it was a way to corrupt leftist
movements. Many stopped being really radical. They used the same language to work
on different levels. And... Something changed in the whole struggle. Many people were
now., what we call old groups old (??) became more into struggle into each other's
points of view. Until now it's going on. But now more and more, now something new is
growing which is... Now something new is getting... being born but still not developed. A
new movement now is going on. Without the distractions of the last movements. I think
what really was important that... before the revolution in Egypt... one or two years
before something was going on and growing, and really it developed and flourished in a
way after the 25th... I don't believe that after the revolution the first and the second is a
big change in the system but there's a big change in the political movement. The big
change in the popular movement, this is what's so positive about what's happening...
that now there's a new popular movement developing and this is what will make the
change afterwards but the change didn't really happen in the ... in the system itself.
There's no change of regime but there is a change of the political power of the people,
which will affect any kind of regime that will come now. To what extent? What will
happen? Still we're seeing it. Ok, what do you want to know?
NP: You were involved in AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah. Is that right? Or... in the beginning...
AL: Yes, yes, we were a group of women who were trying to build something more
related to the left and actually, in this experience, at that time it was the beginning of
the moment of really a struggle inside the left in Egypt. Between different lines. Some of
them were related., they were working ... they wanted more to be part of the NGO


system, and we thought that this is corrupting the work of the left on the ground and ..
which showed out afterwards that it's true. 90% of those worked in that system they
became very corrupt moneywise, politically, socially, even those who didn't really gain
so much money but they changed all their attitude toward the struggle. They became
much more into the system. Not only the Egyptian System, the international system.
They became part of the imperialist regime .... Actually, the AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah it
was one of so many things that were going on supposedly the left was working on and it
was corrupt with this struggle. Not only AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah, by the way. Even there
were many groups who used to work for... all these who afterwards opened ... we call it
shops for human rights and legal rights and others. It depends on the agenda every year.
Because every change of agenda you find people opening new NGOs. For example now
the agenda is to work for... against Khitan al-Nisa2 (Female circumcision) You find
suddenly all the NGOs are working on this. Now harassment so all the NGOs are working
on this. Because money comes faster for these agendas. I mean it fragmented the
movement and it put only... and actually... it did something very dangerous, linking the
activists to .. it became as if... some activists became ... begin enthusiastic to do the
work and then afterwards they become like employees. It becomes their livelihood, bit
by bit you just corrupt the relation with the struggle itself, because it becomes... AL-
Mar'ah al-Jadeedah was one of many that... But the struggle was, at that time very
aggressive because actually the ... some of us who wanted to get funds ... they did it
behind our back and we discovered that they were taking money by our name without
our permission and we were against it. but we were the majority. We thought it was
very unethical in fact, it's not only corrupt, it's unethical. For example, if we don't agree
on something we can split and each one can do what he wants but to do it with my
name this is very corrupt and very unethical. This is why the fight was very aggressive,
and so, the people didn't... we're not on talking terms till now. You feel someone like a
traitor, he., although you sometimes work with groups that they are different. Each one
... It's not very important... by itself it's not the story. The story was the whole
atmosphere. But it was very significant at that point. Actually, really, most of the people
that are in it became we call them small shops, you know that? Yeah. So, it was
something, but I mean that... it was one of many things we were doing at that time not
only., even, by the way that happened in the solidarity group.


TAPE 2
Arab Loutfi:... group. Many of the solidarity groups ... people just used connections to
make offices for work to get funds for legal things. Everything was beginning to change
into a system of ... it's part of the capitalist system. They became part of the Capitalist
system. Just jobs inside this system. And still going on till now. You find this and that and
this and that. Yeah, but I mean what's going now, I think I believe what's happening
now, more and more people are becoming more critical towards all this attitude.
Soemthing reviving more ... people are trying to be more into the struggle not...
because I believe that this kind of corruption it's part of the defeat of the leftist
movement. It was part of the defeat. The moment a movement reconsider its strength
and develops people can fight these kinds of corruption. Like what happened
everywhere. Even in universities, even in the cultureal life. That's it.
Nicola Pratt: During the ... the period in which ... that there was student movement and
there were (??) There were leftist movements were there... before the fragmentation,
as a result of NGOs, but were there different ideological orientations? Different leftist
groups?
AL: Yes, of course. There were, some groups were more Marxists (??) oriented toward
socialism and to struggle against.... linking very much anti-imperialism with radical
change in the social structure of society. Working more for more democratic socialist
things. Some groups of the leftist were more anti-imperialist in the sense of more critical
to the role of imperialist... imperialism in the Arab area, and so they can link more to
what they call nationalist regimes or any nationalist movement, even if they don't have
the orientation of the left but they believe that the independence is very important for
liberation. You had different... and until now it shows very much in the movement. For
example, you find people who are more keen on the idea that you can alley with even
sometimes with certain conservative groups or classes if they are anti-imperialism.
Other groups see that even if I'm aligned I have to be very critical and very... not to be ..
you have to be all the time very critical about this because it will lead us back to this
kind of control system. You still have this... for example, you find left wing they are more
into .. they are more populist sense of you know, struggling for the movement, for the
people, for (??) the end but they... the Independence day, the army (??) More the
Marxist groups are more into that your country built a strong state with an oppressive
system. And so you have to build a popular democracy, and so you struggle more for
popular democracy not for the control of the old regime or any kind of system, very
strict system. You have these differences in the left, and actually you find it till now in


the movement between the people in the Maghreb or Tahaluf Sha'bi or (??) Marxist. For
example, there is this, how they read the Islamist groups. For example, most of the
radicals see that they are a fascist, that the Islamists are part of the fascist imperialist
project of the area, and so you have to really eradicate it completely because it's like
Nazism in Germany. But also, with .. it's also aligning completely with the Israeli-
American ... to segment the area into religious entities and so on. While some groups in
the left, they deal with it as if it's just like the army, which is for me nonsense.
NP: Just like what?
AL: They deal with it like it's just a reactionary. For example, that Sisi is a reactionary
which is not the case, because, there's a big difference between certain,, old class ...
conservative old class between really a group that are really fascist, racists, anti... they
hate women and they hate Christians and Muslims from other sects. They hate the
people if they are not Muslims like them. And they are ready to fragment the area just
for their control. And they are aligning with the Americans, they are aligning with.. They
are completely ... it's a destructive fascist... you can't be... for example, now there is a
big struggle, even in the left, there is a big quarrel about this. Between people who are
fighting ... dealing that we have to finalize, eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and the
struggle is continuing with the old class, but, it's very dangerous to have Islamists you
know? While some other groups are dealing as if they can even be sometimes aligned
with the Islamists. (??) Civil society group, which is dangerous and we're not ready to
have it again because the era, not only Egypt. Egypt, Syria, Iraq, the whole region is
disintegrating and.... they are destroying the region so it's not... It's really destructive,
and they are trying to fragment the area into entities, religious entities. And Israel is the
only side that benefits from this because in the end you are building ... I mean if you
accepted the idea of religious .. you're giving Israel the right to exist. And with this we
are building fascist... a fascist system for the whole area. The chiefs... the chiefs of tribes
want to control people in a fragmented area. Very dangerous. I can't compare them
with an old class. No, really, even in one state ... it's like if in Germany ... people who
tried to say that the social democrats are like the Nazis. They're both part of the
burgoos. this is bull shit. And, not only Germany, the whole Europe, paid the price for
that. They really destroyed Europe. We are not... Europe lost 30 million people ... we
have... how many? How many are dying every day? In this area, if you go ... If we went
into that how many thousands of people will die? 500-600 are dying every day. 300,
20,000. In Syria thus far 200,000 have been killed. It's very dangerous. So, (??) in the left
itself, there are different points of view of course. Even how to deal with the struggle
and ... actually this is what will build up new alliances afterwards. New alliances are
being built. But here the problems is that it's not really the left. I mean the point is that


now you feel that... it's a political struggle. You can have people with you in the same
line from different ideological groups but because they are anti certain... I believe that
our area there's a project, it's an imperialist project but its working on fragmentation
and I believe that any leftist or what they call themselves nationalists, or call themselves
Islamists, who are in this project. I believe they are anti.... they are part of the people's
enemy, whatever they call themselves. Because you can talk left but mean right, and
actually really I believe that imperialism, part of its ... strength in the whole world, not
only in our area they built a big click of people with the language of the left who are
supporting the policy of imperialism, and you find them in intellectuals, in academics in
(??) they use the language to build a different system, it's not what you say you are, it's
what you... for whose interest you're working. That's it. Anything?
NP: I' m interested to know also about, sorry, back to the 1970s and 1980s, was there a
feeling also of the generationally difference? Like from the left that had existed before,
that there was also a change , were their differences of opinion between the old left and
a new left in the student movement?
AL: You mean now?
NP: In the 1970s.
AL: Difference between what and what?
NP: An older generation. Was there sort of like an older left?
AL: Yes, yes.
NP:and...
AL: In Egypt you mean?
NP: yes in Egypt in the 1970s.
AL: Yeah. Look, in Egypt the point is that... Most of the left that developed in the 1970s
... it developed after the defeat of 1967. and it... it stressed on the idea... it took from ...
it became more ... the left of the 1970s took more from Nasarism. the deep involvement
in anti-imperialist struggle, but actually they were trailing the regime for that... that
why couldn't you do that? and that built a certain criticism for the regime on the ...
based on the critique of the old left to the regime about democracy and the control of
beurucracy and corruption and so on. and this what caused the (???) and if that there
was more... popular democratic movement that is able to stop the corruption, stop the
... and to rebuild, to reconstruct... it was in a way, the movement of the 1970s... it


wasn't., it was in a way... benefiting... not benefiting, I mean... understanding., taking
the spirit of the nationalism of Nasser but with a more critical and deep ... critique of its
understanding of socialism. It could... it based its critique on the old leftist movement I
mean. Actually, there was more interaction between the ... student movement and the
old left. For example you find that many of the movements that were built at that time,
many of its leaders who played a role in reconstructing the conscienceness of the
movement were from the old left inside different parties, In... The Communist party and
the Communist Worker's party or the 8 January movement... most of these
organizations, many of their main leaders were of the old left, which means that the
new left was not... was not in cutting with the ... you will find Tariq Abd-al-Hakim of *
January and many others like Hegiras, The Labor party was Ibrahim Fathi and all the
groups were old. Ali Fathallah. So, for something... integrate... it was not... there was no
cutting between them, but also at the same time, these young men who joined the
movement, they also have a very emotional heritage with the Nasserite politics. But
actually even the left had it because many of Nasser's politics was supported by the left
for example, the securing of the canal (??) The Suzie Canal. Building the High Dam. The
struggle with Israel, fighting anti-Saudi Arabia., anti reactional regimes. He, with the
external politics they were very much pro the regime and also with some parts of the
economical like industrialization but definitely there was a big critique for the whole
social structure of the regime and how it built its... And now it's in its peak part... Now
this is in its peak. I believe .. I believe that now the real change that will be happening in
Egypt through development more and more there's something developing in the
consciousness ... there's deep understanding now for what you call it... a popular
democracy. People... for example, for the first time in the Egyptian struggle, during the
revolution and afterwards and forward no one is asking for a leader, they are all fighting
for a program, people more talking about programs, more talking about the change ...
democratic change making laws, changing laws... before that people more always
depended on the idea of having .. and this is why I don't believe Sisi's story .. it's all fake
in a way, it's funny... not only... it's not a matter of ... there is a certain majority of
people who are not really politicized or they feel secure when they find someone (??)
but the majority movement... the moving... what you call... the fighting group... what
you call...from the people... no more this idea of ... the leader. It's no more there.
People all are talking about how to organize, how to deal how to built the laws, how to
make the constitution... how to make democratic laws, rights of trade unions, rights of...
If you notice all the time, when you talk with people, even ordinary people just like., you
find everybody is discussing the details of how to build a democratic society, they're not
talking about a person who will lead the people to victory, leadership. Something really
deeply changed in the... and I believe that this is part of the deep consciousness that


developed after 40-50 years of struggle, people really began to see the world differently
now, the generation now is not like the generation of the 1960s. Even the 196s
generation were fighters who believed they are democratic fighters, they wanted a
leader. Now people more are talking about a system, different system, different
relations, different laws. The rights of trade unions, right of such things, They believe
that what can ... their only criteria... The only assurance is ... to have a different system. I
believe this is a very big change. By the way this is part of the really very good change in
the young people. I believe this is really what's very important. It's becoming part.,
integrated in the Egyptian character. Do you know what I mean? which is normal. ..All
countries in the world... France, when they had the first burgoos revolution they got
Napoleon after... people don't grasp the idea of building a system of democracy. It takes
generations to understand it because they fight their battles and they... they have to live
all the contradictions of the story. You had Cromwell. I mean it takes time people to
come to build the ability to understand that they can control through their own system
but... but also we have another struggle, this is why it's more complicated more difficult
... because already we're doing this at the peak of the degradation of imperialism, of the
capitalist system, and so you really need not only to reach this but to understand how
you can move it into a new system which can surpass this kind of exploitation system.
And at the moment, worldwide, imperialism is becoming more and more real
destructive, destructive for nature for human beings for classes for everything. Not only
poverty. It's impoverishing everything. Even creativity by the way. Nothing now is really
working in the system because it's only built on money, more and more it's becoming a
predicament, we are in a complicated moment by the way. This is why. Ok. What more?
NP: Unfortunately, we've run out of time.
AL: Yeah, yeah, right, we can continues after work, even after work.


Full Text
Interview with Arab Loutfi
2014

TAPE 1

Nicola Pratt: When were you born?
Arab Loutfi: I was born in Lebanon in 1953, in Sidon, south of Lebanon.
NP: Did you grow up in Lebanon?
AL: Yes, I grew up in Lebanon. And... I only came to Egypt... and I used to come to Egypt when I was a child because my sister... elder sister was living here. So I'm very much in Egypt. But I... actually, first time I came to settle for some time it was in 1972, to study cinema but I used to go and come to Beirut. And then I went back to Beirut in 1976-1977 during the war, then I came back to Egyptian 1982. So since 1982 I settled in Cairo more. But I mean all the ... but all the time there's something between Cairo-Beirut or Lebanon and Egypt. I'm moving around. here and there.
NP: Your parents are Lebanese?
AL: Yes, my parents are Lebanese. Yeah, yeah, I mean... It was something really... I mean, maybe... Egypt, somehow was in a way... the people never felt that it's another country. You know? We have this kind of... it's like as if Cairo is the capital of the Arab world, not only Egypt. Do you know what I mean? And there was this kind of familiarity with moving around, you know? It's not that you're going to another country. It's as if you're moving in the same... It's something people don't understand if they didn't live in this area, somehow. Actually, this is why you find that many... many fields there were lots of Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqi who lived in Egypt. Who were part of the Egyptian community. Anyone who is informed, he knows that. In literature, in art, in everything. What do you want me to do?
NP: Can I ask, what did your parents do?
AL: My father was a lawyer and he was in the judicial system after that... He began as a lawyer then he was like, this kind of like... what do they call it? The Higher Judicial Institute. What do you call it in England? I don't know. In Lebanon they call it the Appeals Court. Where they file appeals. It's the highest court.
NP: The highest court.
AL: Yes, so, he was in that ... in the judicial system but he was a very progressive person actually. He was very open minded, very much... very open minded... very patriotic in a way, at the same time he was more affected by very ... you know, if you can call it liberal left ideas. And he was very... believes in equality, pro women, believes in... he's against injustice. He's with socialism in a way but in a very reformist way. Not radical, like reformist. Yeah. And my mother was a very open minded woman, very strong character. She didn't work but she was a very... very strong presence. She has her own strong presence. Can I talk.... (inaudible) I mean I was brought up in an open minded house. Relaxed. Also interested in culture and arts, movies, everything. I mean it was really a very relaxed atmosphere to grow up in.
NP: What's your earliest memories ... most vivid memories of events happening in Lebanon? Political events?
AL: Look, where we grew up with ... in politics. I mean I'll tell you since I was a child. Because... My brothers and sisters are older than me. They're... the youngest is seven years older. And others 10, 15, 17 years older. I grew up they were already active and at the same time my father was very much into the internal politics. At that time also the anti-colonialist movement was very strong in our area and also, you know there was the occupation of Palestine and so... it's kind of... all the movements started or the rights... for return of the Palestinians and to liberate Palestine and at the same time there was the socialist movement growing also. So I was living in this atmosphere of who .... I'll tell you something very interesting because, I already grew up in a very liberated atmosphere that, even when I began to cope with ordinary people... the people who are living within the system, I was always getting chucks (??) because, for example I knew that women are equals and then we discovered that people who are dealing with women are not equals. You know, for me, the discovery was the opposite. It's not I'm discovering liberation it was, we are in an atmosphere of people who all think in an open minded way and then, through my friends in school or through people I met in many places, you begin to discover that there are people who think differently. To feel very strange that it's ... why they are thinking that way. You know, it was... and actually that was very good in a sense that I mean, It's not that I was fighting for new ideas but I'm not sure if they can be ... if they can be...realistic. I always knew that you can live as a liberated person. This is why for me it was more shocking why people refuse this. you know what I mean? It gives you more strength in a sense that really, you're sure that people can live in a different way, they can deal more relaxed and as many women are class wise or even, for example, in our house, there were no discrimination attitude between classes. So when you find people dealing in a different way you feel it's very strange. I mean... I was in a very... in an atmosphere that helped me to develop in a healthy atmosphere for thinking and so on. And then, when I was 13 actually, 1967 war happened and the resistance began and so there was also the resistance movement, which added to this kind of equality relations. People became more rebellious against oppression in the camps in the popular areas. The students and so there was an atmosphere of rebellion. And this built so much freedom for the society. Actually, my youth, till the late twenties, in a way, I was living within the context of a very... I want to say something. There was a strong movement at that time but the movement was more optimistic in the sense that there was a certain belief that the struggle is going on, that there's anti-imperialist emotions and anti.... There are socialist attitudes but people believed at that time that we are going on the... moment of change. The people believed that there will be victory. And so, till the... late 1970's, the whole atmosphere... I lived in an atmosphere was there was a certain positive attitude toward the change. People were more assured, more relaxed with their ideas and also more relaxed with the feeling that a different society can be built easily. And, actually, we were believing at that time as if all these actionary (???) regimes are just... it's their final moments. Of course, the defeat in 1982, distracted all this attitude. There was a big change after it. Because, the defeat of the resistance in Lebanon, the Israeli occupation, then the Soviet Union failing, then all the change in Eastern Europe, A different era began. people... there was something that... as if it was lost like an earthquake in 1982. At that time of the... So, the atmosphere I grew up in it was full of struggle but the struggle was people were in a moment of real change. This is why, now, when I see the young people, they're very optimistic, which is very good, and you feel that they believe that the change will happen you know? I mean, and I... I'm very sympathetic with this but you know, people, I feel they should be more aware of what's happening around because it's not only this picture. we have to see .... That's it. I grew up at that time. I was... whether in Lebanon or in Egypt there was political movement. In Lebanon there was the resistance movement. It was more organized, more military also. And the struggle was more... more violent in a sense. In Egypt it was more a popular movement but there was a big link at that time between the two in the struggle. Of course, there was a big link, until now there's a big link between anti-imperialism and the struggle for socialism for the socialists, like me. I... we believed in a... that we can't achieve a real socialist society with justice and... without defeating imperialism. And this caught on to with many groups who are not really socialists but at least they were anti -imperialists in that sense and they wanted a chance for liberation, for change. Till now, this problem is going on now but it's becoming more complicated because of the world wide economy is becoming more complicated, imperialism is becoming more complicated by the way... I think you feel it even in England. It's not the same simple story of struggle between classes then... It's taking more very complicated ... network of interests that interacting in a way that you feel that in a way, Saudi Arabia is somehow inside... into the Israeli... into the American. You know, it's no more... I'm talking outside... That's it. What do you want more?
NP: Did you participate in the movement in Lebanon?
AL: Yes, of course.
NP: How?
AL: Yes, I was, from the beginning, since I was 13-14. I joined.... I was in the beginning with the Marxist group, Lebanese, then I became part of the Marx... I mean, left wing of Palestinian resistance. Yeah, and... I was always in the left, I was always organized. I was in the organized movement all my life, nearly all my life. Even when I'm not in something now, it's just because you need to find what's going on. But I believe that... I believe that an organized movement is very important to change. You can't work alone independently as a human being without being part of a movement. Maybe now, there are discussions... what kind... how movement. How can movement's change from what's going in the sense of learning from old mistakes and trying to build something different. But definitely people need to organize. I agree with this completely. And I.. for me .... it was... change is part of my life. For me I believe that politics is ... I am in a way a political animal (??) Even when I work cinema, even when I work teaching, when I work with anything I'm always .... I have to see it through political things because our lives was politics. I mean we never lived a normal life because we... for example Lebanon was part of Big Syria, Big Syria was Palestine, Lebanon... suddenly they cut old Syria into different countries so you find yourself there's Lebanon there's ... and then Palestine was taken by the Zionists and then you find that this affects your daily life by the way in so many ways. People it changes destinies. And so you can't be ... you can't deal as if you're outside politics. It affects your social life, economic life, your relations with people, it divides countries, it divides families, and then you find that more and more and more they're cutting the area into pieces. Now, we, for example, in this area, we don't have any country that you don't have borders closing and not only that. For Arabs, it's more difficult for Arabs to move between Arab countries than an American to move into an Arab country. For example, if I want to travel now, you find for Saudi Arabia you have to have a visa, for, I don't know... Emirates you have to, for Syria, for Lebanon, People don't feel... the area is fragmented and you are trapped inside walls. And it's getting... it's becoming claustrophobic. You know, this area. It affects our lives. You feel it. Of course, I was always in politics, I was always in the movement, I was.. I never worked in something independent from other. When I'm working on the women's questions it's related to the whole politics, not only women. If I'm working on the working class movement or popular movement you link this and relate it to the whole map of politics. You can't even put yourself in one category. You are in all these categories, inside it. Yes, come on. No, I think once I wrote something related to cinema by the way, like ... something.. she was making a book about women but I mean I wrote certain testimony about how I grew up and so on. It's in English I can send it to you by email. I have your email, yes.
NP: I'll give it to you at the end just in case.
AL: Yes, you sent me an email
NP: No, I called you.
AL: No? No, you called me. Yes. So I'll take your email and send it to you. Yeah, because I mean, there's certain like... reading how I began by beginnings in relation to ... Also, I wrote something about trauma and cinema in relation to my country but this is in Arabic. You don't read Arabic?
NP: I can read Arabic
AL: I can send it to you. Yeah. That was for Alive, the.. I don't know. But I mean because it was about trauma and cinema. How it affects your relations in our family (???) It touches this area (??) When you are in a certain society, how all ... you can't have your own ideas without linking to what are the traumas you're living inside. Yes. What do you want to know more?
NP: In 1972, you came to Egypt for cinema school?
AL: Yes, I came to cinema school and at that time I was in the Lebanese political movement and then here I began to become linked to the student movement in Egypt and I was part of the political groups that were there. There was very high relation between Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian left wing groups in a way. There was an organized relation. So I was active within this movement. It was more... at that time it was a secret movement. It wasn't ... it wasn't like now. I mean most of the organizations were secret organizations. And actually this is why in the late 1970, after Camp David ... I was ... they wanted to arrest me because of this. because of what they knew about me. So I left Lebanon. I wasn't caught here but I was not... They put me on blacklist to Egypt. I stayed for about 5 years or 4 years I couldn't come to Egypt. But when I married my ex-husband, because he's Egyptian, they had to allow me in as the wife of an Egyptian. because there's no case. They don't have a case, it's information so they can't ... if they don't want to allow me they have to have a case and they didn't have.. there was no case, so they had to let me in. But they began stopping me at every time and I asked me. They called me for interrogations and every time... it was not settled till I got my Egyptian citizenship. After getting the citizenship they can't continue doing that because now you're Egyptian. So... and then it went... and also there was a political change also because... That's when things changed and... so I settled, I was in Egypt after that. I have two nationalities Egyptian and Lebanese. Since 1984 I think.. 1983-1984. Yeah. But.. and I stayed active but changed ... even in Egypt there was something beginning to change more and more. Many of the movements were collapsed within... after the big political changes. Actually, lots of.. even in Europe I think this happened. Many leftist groups became more fragmented. Different points of view about this and there was a big struggle here about how to continue. There was this new liberal era and many began to ... many of the old left became ... many of them linked some way or another to the regime in different ways. Some people became more linked to the NGO system, which is very much related to the West in a way and also, it was a way to corrupt leftist movements. Many stopped being really radical. They used the same language to work on different levels. And... Something changed in the whole struggle. Many people were now.. what we call old groups old (??) became more into struggle into each other's points of view. Until now it's going on. But now more and more, now something new is growing which is... Now something new is getting... being born but still not developed. A new movement now is going on. Without the distractions of the last movements. I think what really was important that... before the revolution in Egypt ... one or two years before something was going on and growing. and really it developed and flourished in a way after the 25th... I don't believe that after the revolution the first and the second is a big change in the system but there's a big change in the political movement. The big change in the popular movement. this is what's so positive about what's happening... that now there's a new popular movement developing and this is what will make the change afterwards but the change didn't really happen in the ... in the system itself. There's no change of regime but there is a change of the political power of the people. which will affect any kind of regime that will come now. To what extent? What will happen? Still we're seeing it. Ok, what do you want to know?
NP: You were involved in AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah. Is that right? Or... in the beginning...
AL: Yes, yes, we were a group of women who were trying to build something more related to the left and actually, in this experience, at that time it was the beginning of the moment of really a struggle inside the left in Egypt. Between different lines. Some of them were related.. they were working ... they wanted more to be part of the NGO system. and we thought that this is corrupting the work of the left on the ground and .. which showed out afterwards that it's true. 90% of those worked in that system they became very corrupt moneywise, politically, socially, even those who didn't really gain so much money but they changed all their attitude toward the struggle. They became much more into the system. Not only the Egyptian System, the international system. They became part of the imperialist regime .... Actually, the AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah it was one of so many things that were going on supposedly the left was working on and it was corrupt with this struggle. Not only AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah, by the way. Even there were many groups who used to work for ... all these who afterwards opened ... we call it shops for human rights and legal rights and others. It depends on the agenda every year. Because every change of agenda you find people opening new NGOs. For example now the agenda is to work for... against Khitan al-Nisa2 (Female circumcision) You find suddenly all the NGOs are working on this. Now harassment so all the NGOs are working on this. Because money comes faster for these agendas. I mean it fragmented the movement and it put only... and actually... it did something very dangerous, linking the activists to .. it became as if... some activists became ... begin enthusiastic to do the work and then afterwards they become like employees. It becomes their livelihood. bit by bit you just corrupt the relation with the struggle itself. because it becomes... AL-Mar'ah al-Jadeedah was one of many that... But the struggle was, at that time very aggressive because actually the ... some of us who wanted to get funds ... they did it behind our back and we discovered that they were taking money by our name without our permission and we were against it. but we were the majority. We thought it was very unethical in fact. it's not only corrupt, it's unethical. For example, if we don't agree on something we can split and each one can do what he wants but to do it with my name this is very corrupt and very unethical. This is why the fight was very aggressive. and so, the people didn't... we're not on talking terms till now. You feel someone like a traitor. he.. although you sometimes work with groups that they are different. Each one ... It's not very important ... by itself it's not the story. The story was the whole atmosphere. But it was very significant at that point. Actually, really, most of the people that are in it became we call them small shops. you know that? Yeah. So, it was something, but I mean that ... it was one of many things we were doing at that time not only.. even, by the way that happened in the solidarity group.



TAPE 2

Arab Loutfi: ... group. Many of the solidarity groups ... people just used connections to make offices for work to get funds for legal things. Everything was beginning to change into a system of ... it's part of the capitalist system. They became part of the Capitalist system. Just jobs inside this system. And still going on till now. You find this and that and this and that. Yeah, but I mean what's going now, I think I believe what's happening now, more and more people are becoming more critical towards all this attitude. Soemthing reviving more ... people are trying to be more into the struggle not ... because I believe that this kind of corruption it's part of the defeat of the leftist movement. It was part of the defeat. The moment a movement reconsider its strength and develops people can fight these kinds of corruption. Like what happened everywhere. Even in universities, even in the cultureal life. That's it.
Nicola Pratt: During the ... the period in which ... that there was student movement and there were (??) There were leftist movements were there... before the fragmentation, as a result of NGOs, but were there different ideological orientations? Different leftist groups?
AL: Yes, of course. There were, some groups were more Marxists (??) oriented toward socialism and to struggle against.... linking very much anti-imperialism with radical change in the social structure of society. Working more for more democratic socialist things. Some groups of the leftist were more anti-imperialist in the sense of more critical to the role of imperialist ... imperialism in the Arab area, and so they can link more to what they call nationalist regimes or any nationalist movement, even if they don't have the orientation of the left but they believe that the independence is very important for liberation. You had different... and until now it shows very much in the movement. For example, you find people who are more keen on the idea that you can alley with even sometimes with certain conservative groups or classes if they are anti-imperialism. Other groups see that even if I'm aligned I have to be very critical and very... not to be .. you have to be all the time very critical about this because it will lead us back to this kind of control system. You still have this... for example, you find left wing they are more into .. they are more populist sense of you know, struggling for the movement, for the people, for (??) the end but they... the Independence day, the army (??) More the Marxist groups are more into that your country built a strong state with an oppressive system. And so you have to build a popular democracy. and so you struggle more for popular democracy not for the control of the old regime or any kind of system, very strict system. You have these differences in the left. and actually you find it till now in the movement between the people in the Maghreb or Tahaluf Sha'bi or (??) Marxist. For example, there is this, how they read the Islamist groups. For example, most of the radicals see that they are a fascist, that the Islamists are part of the fascist imperialist project of the area. and so you have to really eradicate it completely because it's like Nazism in Germany. But also, with .. it's also aligning completely with the Israeli-American ... to segment the area into religious entities and so on. While some groups in the left, they deal with it as if it's just like the army. which is for me nonsense.
NP: Just like what?
AL: They deal with it like it's just a reactionary. For example, that Sisi is a reactionary which is not the case. because, there's a big difference between certain,, old class ... conservative old class between really a group that are really fascist, racists, anti... they hate women and they hate Christians and Muslims from other sects. They hate the people if they are not Muslims like them. And they are ready to fragment the area just for their control. And they are aligning with the Americans, they are aligning with.. They are completely ... it's a destructive fascist ... you can't be... for example, now there is a big struggle, even in the left. there is a big quarrel about this. Between people who are fighting ... dealing that we have to finalize, eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and the struggle is continuing with the old class. but, it's very dangerous to have Islamists you know? While some other groups are dealing as if they can even be sometimes aligned with the Islamists. (??) Civil society group. which is dangerous and we're not ready to have it again because the era, not only Egypt. Egypt, Syria, Iraq. the whole region is disintegrating and.... they are destroying the region so it's not... It's really destructive. and they are trying to fragment the area into entities, religious entities. And Israel is the only side that benefits from this because in the end you are building ... I mean if you accepted the idea of religious .. you're giving Israel the right to exist. And with this we are building fascist... a fascist system for the whole area. The chiefs... the chiefs of tribes want to control people in a fragmented area. Very dangerous. I can't compare them with an old class. No, really, even in one state ... it's like if in Germany ... people who tried to say that the social democrats are like the Nazis. They're both part of the burgoos. this is bull shit. And, not only Germany, the whole Europe, paid the price for that. They really destroyed Europe. We are not... Europe lost 30 million people ... we have... how many? How many are dying every day? In this area, if you go ... If we went into that how many thousands of people will die? 500-600 are dying every day. 300, 20,000. In Syria thus far 200,000 have been killed. It's very dangerous. So, (??) in the left itself, there are different points of view of course. Even how to deal with the struggle and ... actually this is what will build up new alliances afterwards. New alliances are being built. But here the problems is that it's not really the left. I mean the point is that now you feel that ... it's a political struggle. You can have people with you in the same line from different ideological groups but because they are anti certain... I believe that our area there's a project, it's an imperialist project but its working on fragmentation and I believe that any leftist or what they call themselves nationalists, or call themselves Islamists, who are in this project. I believe they are anti .... they are part of the people's enemy. whatever they call themselves. Because you can talk left but mean right. and actually really I believe that imperialism, part of its ... strength in the whole world, not only in our area they built a big click of people with the language of the left who are supporting the policy of imperialism. and you find them in intellectuals, in academics in (??) they use the language to build a different system. it's not what you say you are, it's what you... for whose interest you're working. That's it. Anything?
NP: I'm interested to know also about, sorry, back to the 1970s and 1980s, was there a feeling also of the generationally difference? Like from the left that had existed before, that there was also a change , were their differences of opinion between the old left and a new left in the student movement?
AL: You mean now?
NP: In the 1970s.
AL: Difference between what and what?
NP: An older generation. Was there sort of like an older left?
AL: Yes, yes.
NP: and...
AL: In Egypt you mean?
NP: yes in Egypt in the 1970s.
AL: Yeah. Look, in Egypt the point is that... Most of the left that developed in the 1970s ... it developed after the defeat of 1967. and it ... it stressed on the idea... it took from ... it became more ... the left of the 1970s took more from Nasarism. the deep involvement in anti-imperialist struggle. but actually they were trailing the regime for that ... that why couldn't you do that? and that built a certain criticism for the regime on the ... based on the critique of the old left to the regime about democracy and the control of beurucracy and corruption and so on. and this what caused the (???) and if that there was more... popular democratic movement that is able to stop the corruption, stop the ... and to rebuild, to reconstruct ... it was in a way, the movement of the 1970s... it wasn't.. it was in a way... benefiting... not benefiting, I mean... understanding.. taking the spirit of the nationalism of Nasser but with a more critical and deep ... critique of its understanding of socialism. It could... it based its critique on the old leftist movement I mean. Actually, there was more interaction between the ... student movement and the old left. For example you find that many of the movements that were built at that time, many of its leaders who played a role in reconstructing the conscienceness of the movement were from the old left inside different parties, In... The Communist party and the Communist Worker's party or the 8 January movement ... most of these organizations, many of their main leaders were of the old left, which means that the new left was not ... was not in cutting with the ... you will find Tariq Abd-al-Hakim of * January and many others like Hegiras, The Labor party was Ibrahim Fathi and all the groups were old. Ali Fathallah. So, for something... integrate... it was not... there was no cutting between them. but also at the same time, these young men who joined the movement. they also have a very emotional heritage with the Nasserite politics. But actually even the left had it because many of Nasser's politics was supported by the left for example, the securing of the canal (??) The Suzie Canal. Building the High Dam. The struggle with Israel. fighting anti-Saudi Arabia.. anti reactional regimes. He, with the external politics they were very much pro the regime and also with some parts of the economical like industrialization but definitely there was a big critique for the whole social structure of the regime and how it built its... And now it's in its peak part... Now this is in its peak. I believe .. I believe that now the real change that will be happening in Egypt through development more and more there's something developing in the consciousness ... there's deep understanding now for what you call it ... a popular democracy. People... for example, for the first time in the Egyptian struggle, during the revolution and afterwards and forward no one is asking for a leader. they are all fighting for a program. people more talking about programs. more talking about the change ... democratic change making laws, changing laws... before that people more always depended on the idea of having .. and this is why I don't believe Sisi's story .. it's all fake in a way, it's funny... not only... it's not a matter of ... there is a certain majority of people who are not really politicized or they feel secure when they find someone (??) but the majority movement ... the moving... what you call... the fighting group... what you call...from the people... no more this idea of ... the leader. It's no more there. People all are talking about how to organize, how to deal how to built the laws, how to make the constitution... how to make democratic laws, rights of trade unions, rights of... If you notice all the time, when you talk with people, even ordinary people just like.. you find everybody is discussing the details of how to build a democratic society. they're not talking about a person who will lead the people to victory, leadership. Something really deeply changed in the... and I believe that this is part of the deep consciousness that developed after 40-50 years of struggle. people really began to see the world differently now, the generation now is not like the generation of the 1960s. Even the 196s generation were fighters who believed they are democratic fighters, they wanted a leader. Now people more are talking about a system. different system, different relations, different laws. The rights of trade unions, right of such things, They believe that what can ... their only criteria... The only assurance is ... to have a different system. I believe this is a very big change. By the way this is part of the really very good change in the young people. I believe this is really what's very important. It's becoming part.. integrated in the Egyptian character. Do you know what I mean? which is normal. ..All countries in the world... France, when they had the first burgoos revolution they got Napoleon after... people don't grasp the idea of building a system of democracy. It takes generations to understand it because they fight their battles and they... they have to live all the contradictions of the story. You had Cromwell. I mean it takes time people to come to build the ability to understand that they can control through their own system but ... but also we have another struggle. this is why it's more complicated more difficult ... because already we're doing this at the peak of the degradation of imperialism, of the capitalist system. and so you really need not only to reach this but to understand how you can move it into a new system which can surpass this kind of exploitation system. And at the moment, worldwide, imperialism is becoming more and more real destructive. destructive for nature for human beings for classes for everything. Not only poverty. It's impoverishing everything. Even creativity by the way. Nothing now is really working in the system because it's only built on money. more and more it's becoming a predicament. we are in a complicated moment by the way. This is why. Ok. What more?
NP: Unfortunately, we've run out of time.
AL: Yeah, yeah, right. we can continues after work. even after work.