Has the Egyptian revolution lost its way?
I was in Cairo during the revolution and although I didn’t make my way to Tahrir Square, the energy felt among Egyptians was infectious. Everyone felt that a change was coming and that this time, they were in control of their future and the future of their country. For once, it seemed that Egyptians were optimistic about where Egypt was going. The people had had enough of corrupt government officials and a system meant to quash its citizens rather than see them flourish. The idea spread like wildfire and before any of us knew it, people from all walks of life were chanting “down with the military regime”.
Today, the country continues to struggle on its path towards a true and transparent democracy. Last year, Egyptians celebrated as they participated in the first ever democratic elections that left them choosing between a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the former regime they had just overthrown. A difficult choice that left many feeling disheartened as they chose Morsi over Shafik simply because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote in the old regime.
Lacking in tact and any type of plan, the Muslim Brotherhood took over government in Egypt and destroyed itself a year later during the June 30th protests that ousted Morsi. They wanted too much too soon as they attempted to come up with laws that overstepped every boundary known to man. In a country that is known for its entertainment industry, these new laws were not well received by the locals in any way.
Three years and two revolutions later, Egypt has found itself right back where it started as locals go into their second democratic elections consisting of a military candidate and a civilian candidate with Nasserist political leanings. However, the race is not even, AbdelFattah ElSissi, a former major general in the Egyptian military, is the favorite among Egyptians for his heroic stance against the Muslim Brotherhood. He is the man behind the round ups of pro-Morsi protests last year and the fight against the terrorist problem Egypt now faces post Morsi ouster.
Hailed as a national hero, ElSissi is said not to even need a political campaign because of the love Egyptians have for him. Social media is flooded with his picture with professions of love and loyalty towards him and thanks for saving the country from impending doom at the hands of the brotherhood. His cause is noble and although members of the international community disagree with how he dealt with the situation last summer, the majority of Egyptians see this election as one with only one option on the ballots. In case there’s a bit of confusion, that option starts with an A.
Hamdeen Sabahi, a revolutionary at heart who served time in prison seventeen times for coming out against the Mubarak and Sadat regimes, is running as the opposition. He may be hoping that the second time is a charm for him, as he participated in the last elections and came out third after Shafik with a 700 000 thousand vote difference. But this time around his fan base may not be as big as the attacks came crashing down on him when he announced his bid to run for president earlier in the year. A civilian option with no background with the military or the Muslim Brotherhood, Sabahi would seem like the perfect candidate to save whatever is left of the January 25th revolution. The catch, he’s a socialist. Ascribing to the Nasserist ideology, as president, it’s easy to conclude that he would encourage Egypt to go back to a pan-Arab and potentially communist way of dealing with things. At the time, Nasser dreamt of a united Arab union that would bring together the entire region and have Egypt as its head.
Although there are many that believe that the revolution was premeditated as a means to destroy the country, January 25th 2011 stands as the only day when Egyptians from all walks of life came together under one single purpose. Young and old, rich and poor, gathered in Tahrir Square in order to fight against oppression, corruption and a dictator. Millions of citizens of the land of civilizations were united under one front and rejoiced when they succeeded in overthrowing the anchor that was bringing the country down.
Can we say the revolution was a success? Only time will tell. Fighting dictators and moving towards a representative government does not happen over night and without consequences. It is a long-term process that may only prove successful in the eyes of the next generation of Egyptians. As they make their way to the ballot boxes, they are haunted by old memories of elections passed; will Egypt finally declare the plight towards democracy a success this year?
The Prince Arthur Herald
Photo Credit: Flickr, Creative Commons, nebedaay