Mrs Soliman has worked as a journalist over 20 years and was previously Middle- East media analyst for the BBC. She has since worked for CNN in Cairo and once interpreted a speech for ex-president Mubarak at an Arab summit after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq.
Speaking at the Fourth Exiled Journalists network press freedom forum at the NUJ head office in London Mrs Soliman was critical of the oppressive Egyptian media that the youngsters had to bypass to organise protests saying “The government held a tight grip on the media, lead by influential business owners with strong links to the Egyptian government”.
The revolution which lasted 18 days and has estimated to have cost over 300 lives was in protest to a regime that has been criticised for not practicing democracy, punishing freedom of expression and using torture to gain intelligence.
According to Mrs Soliman the flagging economy and lack of sufficient jobs for the middle classes promoted unrest. University education is free in Egypt which created a highly educated middle class with little or no prospect of work for the middle classes and the poor saying that there was a “The sheer lack of a future, for all economic groups”
As they prepare for the first democratic elections in 30-years many Western nations are concerned with a possible rise for Islamic fundamentalist group the Muslim brotherhood. The group has seen an upsurge in support under Mubarak but Mrs Soliman believes this could be coming to an end ,She explained, “When the disenfranchised youth had nowhere to turn , they turned to god then to the mosque then at the mosque they were brainwashed, this led to a generation of brainwashed youth”.
Mrs Soliman hopes that this can fuel more optimism in the region and described the recent developments as a “freedom of expression recession”.