Jan. 25 marks the 10th anniversary of Egypt’s revolution which led to an uprising against government corruption and then-President Hosni Mubarak.
But 10 years later, the Egyptian people are divided as to whether this revolution bore fruit or whether nothing really changed at all except the faces of those in power.
When it began, the revolution saw millions of protesters taking to the Cairo streets and Tahrir Square rallying against the government and demanding freedom, justice and equality. This led to the toppling of the nearly 30-year rule of the Mubarak government and created an opportunity for free and fair democratic elections.
Or at least, that’s what the protestors had hoped.
A year and a half after the revolution, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood became president. But his term failed to exemplify the type of revolution that young Egyptians apparently were looking for. In fact, the Brotherhood’s victory presented a new challenge for the region, and specifically for Egypt, as many other countries consider the organization a terrorist organization. This threatened Egypt’s status in the region even while the Arab Spring was continuing to rage in the region at that time.
Morsi’s victory provided hope to Islamist movements in the Arab world that they could also topple regimes in the region and take over. Morsi cut off relations with Syria and even demanded that Hezbollah, the terrorist organization that operates out of Lebanon, leave Syria. Morsi’s government took this approach with many Arab countries and sent a message that they supported Islamic movements fighting the Syrian regime at that time.
But by the one-year anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration as president, Egyptian protestors were already demanding that Morsi step down. Egyptians worried that his policies were dragging the country — and her image — down.
At one point, the military gave Morsi a two-day deadline to correct the situation and fulfill the protestors’ demands, but Morsi defended the legitimacy of his rule and vowed he would not give up.
On July 3, 2013, Morsi’s government was toppled by a military coup with now-President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as commander in chief of the armed forces and defense minister at the time.
The coup resulted in clashes between Morsi’s supporters and the armed forces in which dozens were killed.
Adly Mansour became the interim president until El-Sisi won the presidential elections in 2014. Morsi remained in prison until he died — allegedly of a heart attack — in 2019 during his trial on espionage charges.
But years after the original revolution, some Egyptians are reflecting on what, if anything, has changed. Mubarak was a military man, Morsi was a terrorist and now, despite two revolutions, El-Sisi – another military man – has been in power for more than eight years.
While some Egyptians consider the current regime a victory over terrorism, specifically over the Muslim Brotherhood, others are disappointed at the lack of true change in the political landscape.
Egypt plays a prominent role in the Middle East, frequently acting as mediator in internal conflicts even between Palestinians and Israelis, and as a founding member of the Arab League.