Problems on hold
Jubilant Egyptians flocked to the streets and squares on 25 January to commemorate the third anniversary of the Revolution. They went out confident that Egypt is on the right path to the freedom, social justice and human dignity they took to the streets three years ago to demand.
The third anniversary of the Revolution is a good time for candid self-searching and an explanation why the first and second anniversaries were marked with no such joy.
The uprising on 25 January 2011 was an explosion of public wrath that had built up over the years against the despotism and corruption of the Mubarak regime, and what was seen as an intention to hand the reins over to Gamal Mubarak. The masses in their impulsive anger were determined to see Mubarak relinquish power, but planned nothing whatsoever for after then. The crowds of Egyptians in Tahrir Square roared “Leave, leave [Mubarak]”; neither the 18-day wait nor the casualties who fell made them waver. On 11 February 2011 the angry masses marched on the presidential palace, Mubarak stepped down, and the dream came true.
As the multitudes celebrated their triumph, many wondered what would happen next. It had become very clear by then that this public uprising which acquired the name ‘Revolution’ lacked leadership, insight, and a plan for the future. It was the perfect opportunity for the Muslim Brothers (MB), famous as leaders and organisers, to pounce on the Revolution. They soon took over the platforms in the squares where people gathered—most conspicuously in Tahrir—and worked to steer matters in the direction that served their purpose. They pressured the Military Council that was in charge of running the country to comply with their desires and accommodate them. The MB even claimed they had spearheaded the Revolution.
The months that followed saw the MB rise and establish themselves as guardians of the Revolution and its sole beneficiaries. It became obvious to apolitical Egyptians that conflict was imminent between two camps. One was political Islam, led by the MB and supported by a long list of Islamist groups major among which were the Salafis; the other included the various streams of political, scattered, non-aligned, non-organised public among whom many were youth. By sheer force of their super organisation, terrorist threats and acts, and their constant struggle with the Military Council against its [slow] efforts to establish a modern civil State, political Islam gained the upper hand.
The first anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution was thus no cause for celebration; a heavy sense of apprehension and foreboding hovered over a scene of conflict. Egyptians, waylaid by the Islamists’ arguments and propaganda, decided to give them a chance at running the country and a parliament with a sweeping Islamist majority was voted in which instantly embarked on Islamising laws and legislation. In June, Egyptians were rudely awakened from their dream of a civic president when the MB Muhammad Mursi was announced the winner of the presidential elections by a narrow margin; the results of these elections are still being contested in court. The MB had wielded vicious threats to “burn Egypt” in case Mursi did not win. He became the first civilian president of Egypt since the 1952 Revolution which ended the monarchy and made Egypt a republic.
Some Egyptians protested against the questionable outcome of the elections, but most resigned themselves to the reality on the ground. They assumed Mursi would at least honour his electoral pledges—he had promised reform on all fronts, the firstfruits of which should be felt some 100 days into his presidency—and relinquish his affiliation to the MB, becoming a president for all Egyptians. But Mursi wasted no time in exposing his true face and his unalloyed loyalty to the MB. His first strike was aimed at the judiciary through measures guaranteed to curtail their independence. And in order to rally support for his shocking deed, he addressed his supporters as “my family and clan” and extended MB hegemony nationwide. The 25 January 2011 Revolution became a phantom of a movement that had lost its way and was hijacked by the Islamists. From this point on an overt struggle took off between the MB and mainstream Egyptians, its most gruesome episodes were the horrendous MB attacks against non-Islamist peaceful protestors which left scores dead or injured. This drove the truth home: was Egypt on the threshold of civil war? Wrath against the MB and disillusion with the impotent non-MB political opposition led Egyptians to aspire for a military coup to rescue the country from the political quagmire it was sinking into.
The Year 2012 brought in a new Islamist Constitution drafted by an Islamist panel that had taken care to drive away non-Islamist participants, and rushed in by a blatantly poor-turnout-referendum. Egyptians, who had held hopes that a new constitution would set the grounds for a modern democratic State felt deceived and heavily disillusioned. Was there any way out of this seemingly unending dark tunnel?
The second anniversary of the 25 January Revolution thus came with no rejoicing. The political mockery by Mursi and the Ikhwanisation (Ikhwan is Arabic for [Muslim] Brothers) of all State institutions went on in full force. Severely polarised along an Islamist/non-Islamist line, Egypt broke down politically, economically, socially, culturally, artistically and even on the sports levels. It was at this dark moment that Divine providence, in whose protection this nation has strong faith, would look down kindly on Egypt. The grassroots Tamarud (Rebel) movement was born.
As though with a magic wand, Tamarud united Egyptians and generated hopes anew that they could together defy the Islamists and rescue Egypt from their clutches. Come 30 June, millions of Egyptians took to the squares and spilled over into the streets and side streets, demanding—for the second time in three years—the president should leave. They demanded the departure of the tyrant who had turned a blind eye to the dreams of 25 January and took Egypt into a bleak tunnel of deception and regression. It took just a few days for Egypt’s great military to step in and align itself with the will of the masses. In close collaboration with the political, social, and religious sectors in Egypt; Mursi was ousted, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour appointed interim President and a Roadmap was set for Egypt’s future.
Today, Egypt has passed the first test on the Roadmap and established a great Constitution that was approved by a sweeping majority. With presidential elections anticipated shortly and parliamentary elections in its wake, the third anniversary of the Revolution is a joy to celebrate. Despite cruel terrorist acts by the remnants of the MB, Egyptians look up to the future reassured and confident. The 30 June Revolution in 2013 salvaged its predecessor of 25 January 2011.
2 February 2014