x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ahmed Harara, the blind hero of Egypt's revolution

Ahmed Harara lost one eye in the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, only to lose the other during protests to oust the military rulers who took power after the fall of the veteran strongman.

CAIRO // Ahmed Harara lost one eye in the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak, only to lose the other during protests to oust the military rulers who took power after the fall of the veteran strongman.

Photographs of Mr Harara's chiselled face - a patch on each eye - were quickly circulated on social networking sites, galvanising opinion against security forces' brutal methods to quell the mass protests that left 42 people dead.

In spite of himself, Mr Harara has become the latest hero of Egypt's revolution.

"I don't want to be a symbol. The real symbol is Tahrir Square and the protesters there," said the 31-year-old dentist.

Surrounded by friends, an emotional Mr Harara carved a path through the thick crowd of Tahrir Square - the symbolic heart of rallies that ousted Mr Mubarak - which he can no longer see.

Everywhere he goes, he is applauded, congratulated, cheered, kissed. Behind him, a banner reads "We are all your eyes, Ahmed Harara".

On January 25, Mr Harara joined hundreds of thousands of Egyptians calling for political and economic reforms in efforts to end Mr Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Three days later, during fierce clashes between protesters and security forces, a police shot claimed his eye.

"I was hit by birdshot in the head, the neck and the right eye. Shrapnel damaged my retina," Mr Harara said.

But even after losing his eye, and his job, Mr Harara insisted on joining protesters 10 months later, this time in a bid to bring down the military council that took over when Mr Mubarak was ousted from power in February.

On November 19, when the latest round of clashes erupted between protesters and police, Mr Harara headed into Mohammed Mahmud, the flashpoint street leading from Tahrir to the heavily fortified interior ministry.

This time, a rubber bullet took out his second eye.

Having lost an eye in both revolutionary waves, Mr Harara has become "a living martyr" of the revolution that led to the elections that begin yesterday, said his friend, artist Mohamed Al Jbeili.