The writings of iconic Egyptian activist and writer Alaa Abd el-Fattah have raised crucial questions and introduced a new language to issues such as prison abolitionism in Egypt, the universality and interconnectedness of our struggles across borders, and our way forward after defeat. Today, and on his 9th year in prison and 201st day of hunger strike, we honour Alaa’s belief that ‘there is no chance in individual salvation’, and take it to the broader understanding of the individual, the local and the national. With the release of the Arabic version of Alaa’s book “You Have Not Yet Been Defeated” (2022), entitled “Shabah al-rabie” (Ghost of Spring), we will read extracts of his book and engage with his ideas on the space for struggle after defeat, and the language with which to document imprisonment and revolution. In Alaa’s own words:
“They can no longer successfully seclude and discipline bodies; we hear the lament of prisoners, albeit faintly. The outlawing of the bodies of prisoners and their loved ones and the expanded construction and filling of prisons are merely an attempt to subdue rebellious bodies, even if their rebellion involved no more than declaring their pain. Now we must ask ourselves in all seriousness: How do we protect our children’s bodies from this legacy of prisons? The solution does not stop with the release of detainees. It starts with release, but must end with an imaginative vision for the erasure of prisons, not prisoners.” (From: ‘A personal introduction to viciousness in enmity’, Mada Masr, 2019).