On January 28, 2011, after killing hundreds of revolutionaries, the Egyptian security forces retreated from the scene, suffering a huge emotional defeat after revolutionaries took over important squares all over the country. During the months to come, they would rarely appear on the streets of Egypt’s major cities, seemingly hoping that the country would descend into chaos. It would appear, however, that instead of mere moping, they spent the months between February 2011 and June 2013 regrouping. Now, under the leadership of General Al-Sisi, a leader even more ruthless than ousted President Mubarak if that is even possible, the Egyptian security forces have staged a comeback as no other. The twist is that they now have the support of a large portion of the Egyptian population.
The telltale signs of Mubarak’s former regime are all there:
Churches are burning and sectarian violence has returned.
The fear of the Shiites is stronger than ever in the hearts of Sunni Egyptians.
Opposition media have all been shut down while the majority of remaining media organizations are towing the military’s line.
Men in civilian clothing are present with the Egyptian security forces during all standoffs, standing with and shooting from among their ranks.
Claims of a need to clamp down on terrorists are being used to impose control over a whole country through martial law and curfews.
Egypt’s jails are overflowing with political prisoners.
Every kind of rumor imaginable with barely any evidence to back it is making the rounds among the Egyptian public.
And today we hear news of Mubarak’s imminent release after judges cleared him from a second corruption case.
When the good times arrive, they arrive in a flood. (more…)
On January 25, 2011 around noon, Arwa Salah, Adel Abdel-Ghaffar and I met at a sandwich place in Shubra, a Coptic Christian majority neighborhood in central Cairo. The three of us were very skeptical that the day would amount to much, but being the people that we were, we were willing to give it a chance. We’d all given many chances before. We’d been to protests that amounted to not much more than a few yelling “troublemakers”. We’d voiced our anger about the state Egypt was in due to a very long dictatorship in a number of forums that were available to each of us. It had always felt like our actions were not much more than a drop into the sea. But we weren’t going to give up. We were going to give it another chance.
What happened over the following days was momentous and quite unexpected by most Egyptians. I don’t think we realized the potential we had as individuals and as a people to create change. Once this realization started dawning on us, we would not allow ourselves to be convinced that we could not take our country out of darkness and into the light.
We would not settle for less than Mubarak stepping down from power. We fully realized that the removal of Mubarak and his regime would create a huge power gap. We fully realized that there was only one power in Egypt besides the National Democratic Party that had any experience and popular support to step into that gap; and that was the Muslim Brotherhood. We were completely aware that once Mubarak and his regime were removed we would be in for trying times. I remember discussions about this going on and on between revolutionaries between January 25 and February 11. I remember saying those words over and over to the various journalists who contacted me for interviews at the time and who repeatedly asked, “But what happens after you remove Mubarak?” (more…)