Far from the Tahrir crowd: has 'Jan 25' Egypt given the people what they want?

Published January 24th, 2013 - 16:46 GMT

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From Mubarak to Morsi: Egypts Pharaohs
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Image 1 of 11: Egyptians lived under emergency law for over 40 years. Politics, protest, free expression & fair trials were discouraged or dispensed with altogether. Some claimed the Muslim Brotherhood would take power if elections were held. When the prophecy came to pass, the law expired. But the MB's unpopular charter rewrite has got people up in arms again.

Egypt's Ahmed Shafik
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Image 1 of 11: Jan 25, the original banner under which the revolution flew, spawned an election that felt far from democratic when the final draw came down to a "choice" between the old regime stalwart, Ahmed Shafik and a new Islamist from out of the blue. Morsi was accused of piggy-backing Jan 25, given the MB's ambivalent relation to the original revolution.

Egypt generals walk as old regime heads roll
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Image 1 of 11: Morsi went on to fire dozens of top generals and intelligence officials allied to the old order, appointing people closer to him and consolidating the power of the Brotherhood in Egyptian political life. Many demonstrators welcomed the move. About this time, in August last year, his ascent began to be referred to as “the rise of the Pharaoh.”

Egypt Muslim Brotherhood charity
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Image 1 of 11: Poverty is rife in Egypt. Wages are low and there is little-to-no social welfare. Money is so tight that some have considered selling a kidney at a price. Both the government and opposition leaders have come under fire for weasel words and little action. Now the Brotherhood has extended the hand of charity, offering to subsidize goods & gifts.

Egypt protests from 2011-2013
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Image 1 of 11: One long protest: In January 2011, demonstrations took over Egypt’s streets as people rose against the dictatorial rule of Hosni Mubarak. Two years on and protests are still very much a part of the landscape. On the 2nd anniversary of the revolution, 16 political forces have called for a march against 'Brotherhoodisation' of the Egyptian state.

Bassem Youssef satires the new 'bearded' Egypt post revolution
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Image 1 of 11: The rule of the beard: Despite saying he is the “President for all Egyptians,” Morsi’s election caused worry among non-Muslims & atheists (- even women) which some say were confirmed with a new constitution which is explicitly Islamic. Minority Coptic Christians have met deadly attacks, with many fleeing the country in the face of extremism.

Egypt's free press still MIA as censors reign
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Image 1 of 11: Before being ousted from power Mubarak issued a severe crackdown on the media, arresting journalists and bloggers. Egyptians hoped that a new leader would mean a new era of free press but in 2012 Morsi’s constitution didn’t include any articles guarding against the imprisonment of journalists in cases related to freedom of expression.

IMF, Morsi and Lagarde and the desperate Egyptian economy
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Image 1 of 11: Far from independence with an economy in tatters: Egypt suffered because of the revolution as investors lost confidence in the stability of the country. The IMF offered a $4.8 billion loan, but it has been plagued by delays, with negotiations suspended. Talks are set to resume & the government hopes to ink the deal before elections this year.

Egypt youth return to the square Jan 25
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Image 1 of 11: Young liberals took to the streets in 2011 calling for a freer & fairer Egypt. But when Islamist candidate, Mohamed Morsi, came into power, hopes of a secular society were dashed. The youth of the revolution accused Morsi of increasing the influence of Sharia law in his 2012 constitution-- one got naked in protest- and returned to Tahrir Square.

Mubarak on a trolley: Egypt's corruption since Jan 25 has not vanished with Mubarak
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Image 1 of 11: Egypt is still rotting: Mubarak’s regime witnessed endemic corruption. Under his rule Egypt saw illicit gains increase, and was one of the reasons that protesters took to Tahrir. Post-revolution Egypt still has a long way to go; anti-corruption group Transparency International says graft has got worse since Mubarak was relegated to a trolley.

Egypt police and the blue bra girl
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Image 1 of 11: Rather than eradicating the "Khaled Saeeds" (the Jan 25 mascot and precursor to the rally cry 'We are all Khaled Saeed' of Jan 25) revolution seems to have only spawned more mini Khaled Saeeds. Police brutality and torture of civilians are reportedly not just the story of yesterday and are not alien to Morsi's law-enforcement-scape.

From Mubarak's militant dictatorship, to SCAF's militant army rule, to Morsi's arguably militant Islamic takeover, has the Egypt of today under the new regiment of Morsi produced the new world people sacrificed for?

Two years ago on Friday, Egyptians began a revolution that toppled long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, leading to the election of an Islamist president who has since faced his fair share of criticism. Deep political divisions remain, and Egyptians continue to protest against many of the same conditions that sparked the remarkable scenes in early 2011.

The new rulers of the Arab world’s most populous country boast that they have wide support, gained at the ballot box for the first time in Egypt’s history. Their detractors would accuse them of betraying a revolution they did not lead from the get-go. A new opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has joined a coalition calling for mass protests on Friday against President Mohammed Morsi, who they call “Morsi Mubarak.”

The economic woes of Mubarak’s crony state have not dissipated, and the calls for “bread, freedom, and social justice” that defined the desires of the Tahrir youth of 2011 have resurfaced. Perhaps they never went away. The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to pacify the poor with charity may come across as cynical in the current climate of unrest.

The economy is in crisis, and Egyptians are increasingly taking drastic measures to make ends meet. Foreign investment has nose dived and the simmering violence is keeping many tourists away. Violent crime and sexual assault have become major national problems. Many of the liberals who organised against Mubarak held hopes for a new economic system, one that would improve upon the received wisdom of the Washington Consensus. But facing a crisis-wracked economy, Morsi entertained the International Monetary Fund’s own brand of “reforms,” which many on the left distrust.

Authorities are visibly worried of a possible repeat of the violent clashes and protests of 2011, having ordered the security forces to keep people away from Tahrir Square, the epicenter of revolutionary dissent in Cairo. Perhaps, above all, justice has not been seen to be done. The business cronies who underwrote Mubarak’s rule have not seen the inside of a courtroom. And even the ailing dictator himself has managed to wrangle a re-trial from the courts in between stints in prison and hospital.

Whatever the result of this new protest movement, you can be sure the Egyptian street will not be bought off or silenced. Morsi-Mubarak, two years later, the discontent of Jan 25 simmers in post-revolution Egypt.


Did Egypt's revolution do enough to spark real change? Or did it just give a new face to the same old problems? Share your comments with us below!

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