Jihan Fadel: An actress pays the price for supporting the January revolution

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She retired from acting and emigrated outside Egypt and works in a small shop so she can buy food … This is the case of the Egyptian artist Jihan Fadel, who recently raised controversy amid great sympathy between Egyptians, especially the 2011 revolution’s supporters.

It started with a blog post on Facebook, which revealed that Jihan had retired from art and worked as a saleswoman in a small supermarket in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. An Egyptian journalist published a picture of the small store in which Jihan works, which sparked a wide wave of controversy and solidarity. According to what journalist Ayman Noureddine wrote, Jihan Fadel finally retired from the arts a few years ago and worked as a saleswoman in a small grocery store called Taiba. This is her second job, after she worked at the beginning of her time in Canada, in a restaurant that specialises in serving Egyptian food such as fava beans and falafel. Jihan works for a small daily wage to spend her day with her three children and is keen to wear a face mask that hides her identity from Arab and Egyptian customers.

Officially, the Representative Professions Syndicate denied its knowledge of Jihan Fadel’s travel or her decision to retire from art, as the syndicate had not been informed of the matter before. However, it goes back to about five years ago, when Jihan Fadel wrote on her Facebook page that she was aware that she would pay the price for her participation in the January 25, 2011 revolution. But she counted it as a small matter compared to her friends who participated in the revolution and lost their lives, including those who lost their eyes or are now in a wheelchair or imprisoned. Her comment at the time, on the attack she was subjected to, came after defending the actor Ahmed Malik in January of the same year, after the publication of a satirical video with an Egyptian police officer. Jihan stood in solidarity with the campaign launched at that time to support Malik and his friend, the reporter Shadi Hussein.

Jihan Fadel’s decision to travel to Canada came after she couldn’t find enough work after participating in the January Revolution. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (and his media) attacked the 2011 revolution more than once. Jihan Fadel is considered a supporter of the January 25 revolution, which toppled former President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s regime and was seen more than once with her husband and children in Tahrir Square. After the January revolution, she called to continue the revolution. She participated in the initiatives that were organised in support of the revolution’s martyrs and victims.

There were rumours about her support for the late President Mohamed Morsi through her personal accounts on Facebook and Twitter without confirmation or denial of these allegations. From time to time, she appears on her Facebook account, criticising the al-Sisi regime’s policies, especially the sale of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

After the revolution, she participated in two films, My Tiri, Tayara (2012) and Heat Wave (2013). However, after al-Sisi’s coup, she only appeared in a single film, Under Control (2015), which el-Adl Group produced. She lost her job after the United Company took control of Egypt’s drama market for being one of the regime opponents.

According to those close to her, the Egyptian actress has suffered successive financial crises due to the lack of work and her husband’s death in 2012, which afflicted her with a psychological setback. She works hard to care for her three children. Jihan Fadel, who celebrated her 48th birthday a few days ago, was an emerging artistic star when director Khairy Bishara presented her in the title role opposite Amr Diab and Ashraf Abdel Baqi in the 1992 film “Ice Cream in Gleem.” At that time, the artistic community predicted her great fame because of her beauty and her talent. Still, she did not get her break.

Writer Osama Anwar Okasha and director Jamal Abdel Hamid chose her to present the character Ferial in Arabesque: Days of Hassan al-Nu’mani TV drama. She also participated with Yousra in Hayat El Gohary TV drama and with Samira Ahmed in the series A Woman from the Time of Love TV drama, in addition to her participation in the cinema, in movies such as Jaber Al-Khawatir, Al-Tahwilah, A Woman Who Shook the Throne of Egypt, Ard Al-Ard and Sahar Al-Layaly.

Jihan Fadel played roles in various films after the revolution, including the short film “The Story of the Revolution.” She also participated in Al-Fagoumi, the life story of the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, with her participation at that time in the Back Streets TV drama. Jihan Fadel is not the only artist who lost her artistic presence due to her participation in the January 2011 revolution and her opposition to the current regime. The actor Khaled Aboul Naja was forced to emigrate outside Egypt after the screws were tightened against him.

Amr Waked also settled in France, and the duo were removed from the Syndicate of Theatrical Professions, with a decision to prevent the display of works in which they participated. The matter was repeated after that with actors Hisham Abdel Hamid, Hisham Abdullah, and the screenwriter Belal Fadl. While the artist was also deprived of artistic participation, Basma did not appear in artistic circles until after her separation from her political husband, Amr Hamzawy, and she confirmed her retirement from politics to return to acting again.

As for the director Khaled Youssef, he decided to move away from politics in return for his return to Egypt. The young artist Ahmed Malik, who was also known for his revolutionary stances, was exposed to several crises. He decided to focus on his artistic works and not engage in political affairs again.