THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JAILED EGYPTIAN POLITICAL ACTIVIST ALAA ABD EL-FATTAH IS TO BE PUBLISHED BY SEVEN STORIES PRESS
“The text you are holding is living history.” —Naomi Klein, from the foreword
The writer and activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah is arguably the most high-profile political prisoner in Egypt, if not the Arab world, rising to international prominence during the revolution of 2011. An Egyptian writer, technologist, and political activist, he has been prosecuted or arrested by every Egyptian regime to rule in his lifetime and has been held in prison for all but a few months since the coup d’état of 2013. For the first time a selection of his essays, speeches, social media posts, and interviews from 2011 to the present is collected in English in You Have Not Yet Been Defeated. Together, they present not only a unique account from the front line of a decade of global upheaval, but a catalogue of ideas about other futures those upheavals could yet reveal. From theories on technology and history to profound reflections on the meaning of prison, You Have Not Yet Been Defeated (Seven Stories Press, 3/29/2022) is a book about the importance of ideas, whatever their cost.
A fiercely independent thinker who fuses politics and technology in powerful prose, an activist whose ideas represent a global generation that has only known struggle against a failing system, a public intellectual with the rare courage to offer personal, painful honesty, Alaa’s written voice came to symbolize much of what was fresh, inspiring and revolutionary about the uprisings that have defined the last decade. Arrested for the first time after what came to be known as the Maspero Massacre just months after the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Alaa continues to fight for democracy and freedom of expression, and against corruption and oppression. You Have Not Yet Been Defeated has a foreword by Naomi Klein, and is translated from the Arabic by a collective of friends, family, and supporters, who also write a brief introduction to the book. The book will be published in North America on March 29, 2022, by Seven Stories Press and is currently available in the UK from Fitzcarraldo Editions.
“Alaa is in prison not because he committed a crime, not because he said too much, but because his very existence poses a threat to the state. Those who are bold, those who do not relent, will always threaten the terrified and ultimately weak state, which must, to survive, squash its opponents like flies. But Alaa will not allow himself to be crushed like that, I know.” —Jillian C. York, director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Featuring a foreword by Naomi Klein
Translated by a collective
"This mosaic of texts builds a picture of both the principles of resistance and democracy-building and the ugly, absurd, frightening, occasionally joyful experience of living by them in a stubbornly unreformed dictatorship. It’s also a reckoning with the legacy of his much-loved father, the human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif el-Islam, who was imprisoned and tortured under Anwar Sadat and Mubarak. “From my father, I inherited a prison cell and a dream,” Abd el-Fattah writes. In 2011, he is in prison for the birth of his son Khaled, just as his father missed the birth of his sister Mona; in 2014, he misses his father’s death, too… But like the success of the revolution in 2011, its defeat isn’t only an Egyptian story. The rest of us are the “you” of the book’s title, and the speech it is drawn from makes a call to understand and protect the internet as a space for “universal rights and freedoms” – to see and act against tax avoidance, policy interference, the gig economy, algorithms that promote fake news, the exploitation of our data, our reduction to passive eyeballs for advertisers. “Fix your own democracy,” Abd el-Fattah encourages us, from his cell; Egypt’s rulers attempt to isolate, fragment and conceal resistance because it needs a global ecosystem to flourish. What can any one person do with a legacy of pain, struggle and courage? There are no easy solutions here, but You Have Not Yet Been Defeated is a heartbreaking, hopeful answer."
— Rachel Aspden, The Guardian
“[A] damning indictment of the authoritarianism and violence of the Egyptian state... Very few of the accounts of 2011 that have emerged over the past ten years capture the emotional intensity of the moment and the tragedy of its aftermath as perceptively as Alaa does in [You Have Not Yet Been Defeated]. These essays are necessary reading for anyone who wishes to understand the last decade of Egyptian politics. Ostensibly, the collection seems to be narrowly concerned with Alaa; however, his perspective serves as a lens into contemporary political life in Egypt. As the title suggests, [You Have Not Yet Been Defeated] is an attempt to encourage us to look beyond defeat as a framework for interpreting the events of the January revolution.”
—Nihal El Aasar, Jacobin