One year after the fall of Mubarak, the sense of euphoria has withered away
It was 11 February 2011. Under pressure from the streets, President Hosni Mubarak threw in the towel. It took protestors 18 days, on the heels of the uprising in Tunisia, to make the Rais step down, who had been in power for 30 years. Hosni Mubarak found refuge in Charm El Cheikh, and gave his seat to Vice-President Omar Souleimane.
The protestors in Tahrir Square claimed victory- today, a bitter sweet victory, because the fervour of this revolution has begun to wind down. However, the democratic impetus has given rise to different parties, ready to compete against each other in the November parliamentary elections. A hope for change which is dying out. The Muslim Brothers, Mubarak’s sworn enemies, have come out as the winners, having won almost half the seats.
Just behind them, on the assembly benches, the real surprise of these elections: the Salafist fundamentalists, who won almost 25% of the seats. Undoubtedly a protest vote against the liberal or left-wing seculars. This change, which was to put the country on the path towards democracy, seems to have been an illusion.
In the streets too, the sense of euphoria has for the most part withered away.
The economy is at a standstill. Tourists, much like investors, have become scarce. Central Bank reserves are running out, putting in jeopardy the maintaining of the costly system of subsidised commodities- bread, petrol, household gas, etc. After much reluctance, the authorities chose to reembark on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) path to secure 3.2 billion dollars.
The revolutionaries are directing their anger towards the military, accused of perpetuating the former regime and seeking to keep the army’s privileges. The military, who took pride in not opening fire on the crowd to protect Hosni Mubarak, have lost much of their aura due to the deadly repression of protests in the recent months.
And the protestors who just yesterday were calling for the departure of Mr Mubarak, today call for the ousting of the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Marshal Hussein Tantawi. The police, despised under Mr Mubarak, fares no better: their complacency during clashes after a football match in Port Said (North) on 1 February – 74 dead – further tarnished their reputation.
The Coptic Christians (6 to 10% of the population) are anxiously observing the events unfolding in the country. Two churches were burnt down in May in Cairo and there was a heavy-handed clamp down on a protest by this community in October.
To celebrate the fall of Mr Mubarak, pro-democracy student and youth activist organisations made rallying cries echoing those of just a year ago in 2011: calls for strikes and civil disobedience.
Sophie Rosenzweig with the AFP. Photo: AFP