The demonstrations that brought down Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime played out last month on our television screens in pictures captured half a world away.

But the voices of Tahrir Square don’t have to be remote. Mainers will get a unique opportunity to hear tonight from one of the crowd’s most resonant voices.

Dr. Nawal El Saadawi, novelist, feminist and human rights activist, will speak at 7 p.m in the Talbot Auditorium at Luther Bonney Hall on USM’s Portland campus. Her lecture, “The Egyptian Revolution: Creativity, Dissonance and Women,” is likely to provide a new lens into these far-away events.

Saadawi, 80, has been a revolutionary most of her life. Her writings critical of Anwar Sadat’s regime landed her in prison. Her criticism of his successor, and the way that American foreign aid had corrupted Egypt’s leaders, has been constant.

The Mubarak regime may have looked stable in the West, but from her perspective it had been tottering for decades because it was not meeting the needs of a country where half the people live in poverty.

Her Portland speech is one of only three she will deliver in a brief visit to the United States. She is coming to Maine because she was a visiting professor here in 2002,

Saadawi says that the young people in the crowds, who did not break down into religious or political divisions, give her hope that a new Egypt will emerge from this chaotic rebirth.

It’s an example that could inspire revolution elsewhere in the Mideast and throughout the world.

We don’t agree with all of her analyses of global politics, but we are impressed with her optimism and energy. Tonight’s lecture is a rare chance to meet history face to face. It will likely be worth a listen.