The January 25th Revolution, which took place 5 years ago, can be compared to a newsbroadcaster who accidentally says “fuck” on live TV. It happened without warning or planning; it cannot be forgotten; but afterward, everything is back to normal. In other words, #Jan25 was a blip on an otherwise dull broadcast, also known as the Egyptian government.
The show is most definitely over. Democracy in Egypt is a moot subject: for the first time in FOUR years, Egypt’s Parliament reconvened. The event was such a “disaster” that future sessions will not be aired on TV as planned. Because, apparently, democracy is too much for Umm al dunya: it is too unpredictable, and Egypt doesn’t trust what will come out of people’s mouths.
The Egyptian Revolution was the rogue anchorman whose temper gets the best of him. It’s Janet Jackson’s “Nipplegate” at the Super Bowl Halftime (ironic, really, when you consider now she is Muslim, married to a billionaire Qatari and fully covered up on her new tour). You’re just like: what, really? How did that happen? If world politics is really just a giant game of chess, or battleship, as alt people suggest, then Jan25 was a force of God that upended the chessboard: no one was in control.
Yet the military has been in control for almost two years now, and Sisi is astute at manipulating the press and appearing to be a loving, caring tyrant. He visits rape victims; he vows to make Egypt great again with the new Suez Canal; he even attends mass with Egyptian Christians. He recently vowed “We won’t leave any Egyptians in danger in Libya or anywhere else,” after 20 Egyptians abducted in Libya returned home, a quote that sounds rather like an American sound bite.
If he had been elected, I would applaud these acts, no matter how contrived. But he wasn’t elected, dammit. As I wrote last year, “A military is built to defend a nation, not to rule it and terrorize the citizens it is created to protect.” His salary may be a meager $63,000 US, but I’m sure he’s busy filling his pocket with some of the billions of Foreign aid pouring in from China, the US and the Gulf nations a la ex prez Hosni Mubarak, whose $500 million fortune is still festering in Swiss banks because the Swiss still cannot return the assets to Egypt because “Under Swiss law, assets can only be forfeited if there is a proven connection to a crime.” Apparently, they’re not sure (still) if old Mubarak committed a crime or not, despite the fact he has been convicted of Corruption…
The Jan 25th Revolution appeared and disappeared as fast as the Tweets that gathered its supporters in the square. In commemoration Egyptians started a Twitter hashtag #IParticipatedInTheJanuaryRevolution but it feels weird to commemorate a failed revolution. These Tweeters fought for freedom, yet clearly they don’t want to fight anymore, otherwise they wouldn’t be reminiscing, they’d be breathing fire again. A number of writers and cultural spaces were detained and or shut down, but where is the outrage? Is there anything more to say when the rebels no longer want to fight, but commemorate s dead revolution?
The government might want to pretend the Revolution never happened. Many Egyptians might want to pretend too. But, like Janet Jackson’s nipple, it cannot be unseen. It cannot be unheard. The government remembers, and, a la the Hunger a games, they want to make sure Egyptians do not protest again. Wary of arrests, chaos, division, bloodshed, Egyptians are mainly staying in place like good spectators. Egypt is back to Square One. Is it worth it to return to the Square?