Egypt’s Enduring Revolution
by Reem Abdou | Swarthmore College
On Wednesday, January 25th, Egyptian protestors will mark the one-year anniversary of the uprising that toppled the Mubarak regime by marching to Tahrir Square and demanding that the ruling military council hand power to civilians.
The renewal of activist dissent is concurrent with Monday’s inaugural session of the first freely elected Parliament in six decades, which resulted in nearly half of the member seats being given to Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, Egyptians across the demographic spectrum fear that the Islamists will ultimately stifle the democratic movement, which continues to sweep across the Arab nations. The larger concern is that both the ultraconservative members of Parliament and army commanders will work jointly to obstruct any of the reforms that the protestors had fought so hard for. These include any progress made on negligible economic growth, grave human rights abuses, and the enduring lack of political freedom.
It seems that the most urgent responsibility of the newly elected parliament is to act quickly in an effort to amend laws that restrict free speech, association, and assembly and that give police (acting under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) far-reaching power to violently restrain protestors. And while the SCAF’s chieftain, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, partially lifted the 30-year State of Emergency on Tuesday (under which public assembly was banned, while indefinite detention without charge and prosecution in special courts that allow no appeal process — and subsequently rely on torture to obtain confessions — were permitted), he said that that Egypt would continue to apply the law in cases of “thuggery.” Of course, this gesture is considered alongside the fact that the last year has seen hundreds of peaceful protestors convicted by military tribunals on charges of “thuggery.” As such, the notion that the country’s dictatorship has ceased to function is an idealized and highly problematic one, and revolutionaries realize this.
The fortitude of Egypt’s demonstrative campaign also seems to parallel the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose protestors — in drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring —continue to rally against American economic inequality all across the United States. The difference, however, is the unabashed oppression inflicted upon Egyptian activists by members of the military council. For all the liberty and prosperity young and old Egyptians alike have crusaded for, the move towards true, citizen-inspired democracy in Egypt seems a long way off, whereas there might be glimmers of hope for a reformed American economy.
Nevertheless, the opportunity remains for new members of Parliament to terminate the long-standing rule by military fiat and transition Egypt into its legitimate democratic infancy. However, facing continuing abuse from security forces makes this an onerous task — but, in a reversal of roles, perhaps Egyptian revolutionaries can now look to Occupiers for a sense of unfaltering resolve.Reem is a sophomore at Swarthmore College where she is also the Opinions Editor for The Phoenix. She is from Fort Lee, New Jersey.