“I feel like the Egyptians will be protesting every January 25th for the next 50 years,” a friend of mine who also happens to be married to an Egyptian remarked recently. I’d like to add that, considering the fact that Egyptians are generally protesting everyday of the year, that it’ll probably be 100 years before things calm down. It’ll be a modern version of the 100 Years War.
Tomorrow of course marks the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution in Egypt. Last year this time I was in Cairo, feeling jubilant as my husband’s visa had been approved on the 22nd. There were protests but nothing too major; it was, at the very least , calm in Nasr City. I remember sitting on the balcony wrapped in a blanket and the sun, writing my first-year analysis as quickly as I could before I lost the Internet connection.
The year since saw the election of The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi as president, with quite the, er, mixed results. My theory is this: if so many people are protesting, then who the hell voted for him in the first place? Another case of corruption at the polls? On one hand, Morsi is hailed by the West for his helping hand in the recent Gaza-Israeli conflict (although I’m not sure the Muslims are 100% happy with the results). But he is also critiqued by everyone for his apparent appetite for control: deciding who stays in office and who goes, deciding to give himself more powers than even old Hosni gave himself. According to a relative who is a presidential guard, guarding Morsi is much more dangerous than protecting Hosni Mubarak was as “Mubarak never did anything.”
Dissatisfaction with Morsi is to be expected, as all leaders obviously have opposition. My question is how long he will be in power for: will he finish to term and run again? Will he rule with an iron fist and stay in power for decades, a new dictator? Or will the public drive him out beforehand? Unlike before, where criticizing the government could make you “disappear,” the opposition can more or less freely show their discontent. A youth movement in the suez region blocked a railroad track today in protest of Morsi’s presence in the town. Protestors are already geared up in tahrir square, tearing down a wall to get to the Parliament an congress buildings and, as a result, tear gas was fired upon them. Egypt’s Christian faiths have withdrawn from national debate because of the uselessness of the whole charade.
Most interestingly, Mohammed EL Bareidei, who was once considered a possible presidential candidate, has publicly called out for protesting on the 25th because the Brotherhood State shouldn’t last, “the revolution will continue.” It’s a far cry from the days of Mubarak where simply possessing a video of police brutality could have you killed. Here we have an international figure openly asking for the president to step down-something unheard of in Egypt. No one’s chucking El Bareidei in jail-yet. But the in-the-open mocking of the president might meet it’s end soon: Le Monde reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is growing angry with the mockery being made by political pundits and comediens on TV.
No matter if the protests stop in 1 year, 5 years or 100 years: Egyptians will never forget what happened in Tahrir Square. Like all the other great moments in history, it was a case of mistreated people rising up and defeating those who had did them horribly wrong. The protests might stop one day but, (pardon the melodramatic language) Tahrir Square has become the stuff of legends.