Egypt: Two years since Mubarak

On the eve of 25 January people across the world marked the two year anniversary of the Egyptian uprising which led to the overthrow of President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak. His authoritarian regime, which had lasted 30 years, was toppled by popular protest which spread across Egypt in early 2011.

Egyptian revolution

Yet today, two years on, the scenes on the streets of major cities such as Cairo, Suez and Alexandria are almost identical to the images broadcast on news channels, Facebook and Twitter in the midst of the 2011 revolt.

Water cannons and tear gas have made a reappearance as the police try to break up the protests spreading across the country. The continued feeling of discontent and public dissatisfaction towards the ruling powers is becoming increasingly apparent.

In 2011, the people of Egypt united in protest against poverty, the mistreatment and torture of citizens by the security service and the Presidential use of the emergency law.

Khaled Said was one of the many men who were tortured and brutally murdered by the security service. Images of his injured body were spread across the internet, going viral. He became a key motivation for the Egyptian people to stand up and fight for justice and equality.

Twitter and Facebook pages such as ‘Kullena Khaled Said’ (translated as ‘we are all Khaled Said’) grew in popularity and enabled anyone with internet access to join in the political debate breaking down barriers of age, gender and class.

It also enabled the planning of a number of protests, including 25 January, that would eventually lead to Mubarak’s resignation.

Today, the protests differ in motivation from city to city, but it’s clear that they are directed towards President Muhammad Morsi. Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the first apparently democratically elected president of Egypt.

The protests have also been in response to the so-called ‘new’ constitution that was rushed through parliament and maintains much of the authoritarian character that Mubarak’s own constitution possessed.

Gerrymandering took place during elections so that affluent areas gained more representation than poorer anti-Morsi areas, and during the constitutional referendum voters who thought to vote against the regime were not allowed to enter polling stations, making these legitimate voting systems a simple tool of the political elite.

A viral video released after protests on 1 February illustrates the lack of change the country has experienced over the last two years. The video shows a middle aged protester being beaten and stripped naked by riot police. The protester, Hamada Saber, was later made to appear on Egyptian television where he was forced to state that the police were in fact trying to help him and that the protesters were really to blame.

This clear illustration of police brutality and persuasive tactics has fuelled many more to take to the streets.

In other cities families are fuelled by the anger of injustice toward loved ones, the implementation of Islamic law and the clearly underhand and undemocratic tactics of Morsi and his government.

In the last week more than 50 have been killed and many more injured in the protests that do not seem to be ending anytime soon. The full methods that Morsi’s government may use in reaction to the continuing dissatisfaction in Egypt is yet to be seen.


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Fiona Gray

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December 2021
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