Two years on, Egypt finds itself unfulfilled
CAIRO: This week in Egypt it is all about revolution, with Friday being the second-year anniversary of day 1 when Egyptians took to the streets for 18 days to force out Hosni Mubarak and his corrupt, brutal regime of more than 30 years. Now, as we look back on two years of change, more and more Egyptians are being disillusioned.
Take Sarah, a recent university student who participated and joined in protests during the 18 days and many times since. On January 25, 2013, she has had enough and has no more patience for the status quo of the so-called revolutionaries in Tahrir Square and the near constant clashing that has been part of daily life in the country for the past two years.
“We had a revolution. Then we lost. Now we continue to go and fight with the police and more people are dying and are injured. I don’t want to be a part of this anymore. It is too sad,” she told Bikyanews.com ahead of Friday’s planned demonstrations across the country.
Egypt has had elections and referendums since Mubarak was booted from the palace. But those have been fraught with anger, deception and irregularities. The Muslim Brotherhood is now leading the government and putting their own Islamic mark on the country, one that threatens the very idea of freedom and justice.
As Amnesty International pointed out in a report, not one single top police or security official has been charged with killing protesters. Not during the 18 days, not when the military massacred 27 Coptic Christians in October 2011, not ever. President Mohamed Morsi claimed on Thursday in a speech to the country that many of the goals of the revolution have been achieved, citing a constitution – mind you, almost all the activists and opposition decried that document’s horrific stance on human rights – and justice for the “martyrs of the revolution.” But there hasn’t been justice.
Adding to the frustration of the past two years, Egyptians have been forced to struggle through an economic situation that makes the United States’ recession look like a boom. Prices have skyrocketed, cost of living rises and salaries and earnings remain the same as they have been for the past decade. All this would make for massive protests and anger, but the question too many are asking is who to direct it towards?
Ask Ali, a shopkeeper in downtown Cairo, who said that Egyptians’ have an “ugly heart” and blamed the ills of the country not on the Brotherhood or the corrupt leaders, but on everyday Egyptians.
“We are a greedy country and everyone wants to get money and power. It isn’t just the businesspeople who are doing horrible things to Egyptians, it is also the activists who think they are so important. People don’t listen to each and we fight all the time over such small stupid things. It wasn’t always like this,” said the 52-year-old.
As we look forward to the third-year following the Egyptian revolution, it is important to look at what has happened, or hasn’t happened, when we determine how to view change in Egypt. For many, the revolution has done so little to improve their daily lives that they feel isolated. They believe the activists in Tahrir have done more harm than good.
If Egypt is to once again rekindle a sense of unity and forward-thinking that led to the ousting of Mubarak, people must begin to listen and compromise. If both sides remain stalwart in their positions and can find no common ground, Egypt is heading towards more violence and sadness. And it will again see the return of the apathetic to the country, where protesters number in the hundreds and face off against a police more willing to use brute force and violence to subdue them. Something must change.
If the country remains as divided as it is today, the future is as sad as it was on January 24, 2011.