Foreign Policy presents a unique portrait of 2011’s global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them.

All revolutionaries want their stories told to the world, and no one has conveyed the hopes and dreams of Egyptians more vividly than Alaa Al Aswany. The dentist turned author rose to fame with his 2002 novel, The Yacoubian Building, which charted Egypt’s cultural upheaval and gradual dilapidation since throwing off its colonial shackles. Aswany used his prominence to help found the Kefaya political movement, which first articulated the demands that would energize the youth in Tahrir Square: an end to corruption, a rejection of hereditary rule, and the establishment of a true democratic culture. For his political activism, Aswany was blacklisted by Egypt’s state-owned publishing houses, and security officials harassed the owner of the cafe where he met with young writers. Foreign Policy

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