Far from the Tahrir crowd: has 'Jan 25' Egypt given the people what they want?
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. Continue reading below »
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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