A change for the better? – 4 years since Egypt decided to revolt

by Tabby  Urbanstudent of International Relations at King’s College London. Editor of the Middle East and North Africa section.
This week marks the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the revolts against the regime lead by Hosni Mubarak, and it is time to take a step back and look how far Egypt has come since then.

Looking back, the issues raised in Egyptian society in the days and weeks leading up to 25 January 2011, strongly resemble the ousting of Egypt’s King Farouk in 1952. Egyptians were angered by the widespread corruption, low wages, rising food prices and police brutality, to name a few. The revolutionary movements in Tunisia at the time then finally resulted in thousands of discontent Egyptians to take their opinions to Tahrir Square in Cairo, which soon became the central hub associated with the revolution.

So what has changed in these past four years? The answer is: a lot. From Hosni Mubarak resigning, the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces dissolving the parliament, to Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi becoming the elected president – Egypt has had its fair share of turmoil. However, even this brief and seemingly democratic period under Mursi didn’t result in peace.

The election of Mohamed Mursi and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood can be seen as the tipping point for further escalations of violence, with the “Egyptian Crisis” turning into a bloody coup d’état. This led to Mursi being removed as president by the Egyptian Armed Forces under Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, and the prosecution of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Sisi was formally elected president of Egypt in 2014, in an election that was widely recognised internationally, despite him winning a seemingly dodgy 96.9% of the votes. Since then, tensions have escalated to violence, most prominently between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Army supporters, leaving Egypt plagued with chronic violence instead of the aspired peace.

In fact, with peaceful demonstrators being shot down by Sisi’s police forces, it could be said that Egypt has taken at least one step backwards in regard to issues that sparked the revolution in the first place, like freedom of speech.

Furthermore, this internal unrest has challenged the status quo in the Middle East. Just like the revolts in Tunisia instigated the revolts in Egypt, Egypt instigated revolts in an array of other countries in the region. Also, during the time of Mubarak’s reign, he had been seen as an ally to the West, especially when it came to Egypt holding a negotiating role in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Under the new president, this is no longer the case, and peace negotiations have made no further progress.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict what the future will bring. However, I doubt that the demonstrators that proudly marched to Tahrir Square to stand up for what they believe in on that fateful day four years ago had imagined the revolution to end up this way. It seems like Egypt has been living a nightmare, from which it has yet to wake up.


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