Egypt: Has the 25 January Revolution Reached Its Goals?

Hakim Khatib

Hakim Khatib

Hakim Khatib has finished his PhD in political science at Duisburg-Essen University. Prior to his PhD on power, religion and state in West Asia and North Africa with the focus on the case of Egypt since the 1950s, he studied politics and economics of the Middle East, European studies, journalism and linguistics at Marburg University, Fulda University, London School of Journalism and Tishreen University in Syria. He has been lecturing at different German universities since 2011 on issues related to ideology and the interplay of power thereof in socio-political life, and religion and its relationship to contemporary politics in the regions of West Asia and North Africa, especially Egypt and Syria. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics & Culture Journal (MPC Journal) since 2014 and has published over 100 articles in different languages, academic and otherwise, in a wide spectrum of on-line and printed newspapers, journals and think tanks. His current research focuses on Islam-inspired political ideologies such as Islamist extremism and Salafism, radicalisation, de-radicalisation processes in Germany as well as peace and conflict in the Middle East.
Hakim Khatib
 © Image:  Haitham Mahgoub - Map showing the areas controlled by Islamic state in Syria and Iraq

© Image: Haitham Mahgoub – Map showing the areas controlled by Islamic state in Syria and Iraq

By the 4th anniversary of the Egyptian uprising, over than 20 people killed and tens injured by security forces in Egypt. While some consider the military intervention to depose the Islamist president Mohammad Morsi on 30 June 2013 an extension of January uprising in 2011, others consider this intervention a coup d’état against the first democratically elected president.

There are two different readings of the Egyptian political landscape. The first reading presents the military intervention in 2013 as a necessity because the Muslim Brotherhood had stolen the revolution from the Egyptian people to reach power. The military assessed the national security of the country and brought the January revolution to its original path.

According to the second reading, the Egyptian revolution has not ended yet. The military intervention was only to seize power and to re-install the old regime back. The revolution has been diverted from its original path.

The focus should have been more on improving the freedoms and living conditions and less on revenge for the martyrs or against the corrupt old regime affiliates. While such issues are minor to be objectives of a revolution, they are important for the concept of social justice, for which people drove to streets at the first place.

Many claim that the January revolution continues under the command of Al-Sisi, nevertheless, Alaa and Jamal Mubarak, the sons of the toppled president Hosni Mubarak have been released recently after four years in prison.

Regional threats make people think twice before opposing a dictator regime. Looking around Egypt, there are countries falling and failing such as in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Such regional nightmare instills fear in peoples’ hearts and minds. The Egyptian government has played on this factor of fear. The regime used these regional developments to illustrate that any change could turn Egypt into chaos. This is a very effective method by the Egyptian regime to keep the youngsters  and opposition voices in check.

The division among revolutionaries such as in 6th April Youth movement weakened the oppositional and revolutionary momentum. Despite the split of 6th April movement into two fronts, both demonstrated to have the same slogans and goals. However, divisions among liberal revolutionaries are not the sole reason for the deterioration of political conditions in Egypt.

It is rather the deep state and the ultra strict security measures. On one hand, any form of opposition to the coup d’état was described as treason or implicit support to the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, the military, through the media, has drawn an image of itself. It secured the country and encountered terrorism.

The military claim of securing Egypt could be an advertisement more than a reality. There are still people killed by security forces.  The police killed Shaima’a Al-Sabbag, 33, a political activist, on 24 January 2015 for demonstrating in Tahrir Square. The issue of security is limited and does not apply to people if they oppose the state.

President Al-Sisi said in a speech at the Police Day celebration on 20 January 2015 “be careful when you ask for your rights.”

“No one is against human rights, but tell me, is it possible under the current circumstances, and I say this to the attending policemen, not to see violations? No, there will be violations,” he added. Al-Sisi continued to explain that the Egypt as state doesn’t accept violations but “Egypt is going through an exceptional time”.

Image Credit: Egypt Independent

Image Credit: Egypt Independent

Bread, freedom and social justice were the first slogans chanted by the revolutionaries in Tahrir Square in 2011. There is no evidence that living conditions in Egypt are better now than the past decade.

Prices are rising and gasoline and gas are difficult to attain. Employment rates are still high. The real income of the Egyptian person has not improved.

The only achievement of the January revolution so far is breaking the walls of fear and ending decades of a dictator. Mubarak was gone but the deep state is still there.

 The future of Egypt remains unclear but there are signs of political, social and economic reform on one hand and riddance of political Islam on the other. There is little evidence that the two ideological paths, liberal and Islamist, will find a common ground soon. This owes at the first place to the deep ideological differences between these two camps.

Looking at the development of events since 2011, most political parties and activists are learning from their and others’ actions and reactions. They are trying to perform better in the future.


 

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