After a shocking overthrow of Egypt’s government that caught the eyes of the whole world, many are wondering what’s next. Through a campaign that mainly dealt with non-violent civil resistance and a series of demonstrations, citizens demanded the overthrow of who many called an oppressive dictator, former President Hosni Mubarak. Though some violent clashes did occur which left 846 people dead and 6,000 wounded, by early February, President Mubarak resigned, turning the power over to the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces. Egyptians and many around the world rejoiced, and similar grass-root demonstrations calling for a change in their own oppressive governments soon followed after throughout Africa and the Middle East.
Almost six months later, despite showing tremendous promise towards a peaceful transition to a democratic society, many things remain uncertain. A completely stable government has yet to be put in place, with much of the power still held with the military. Even after the many protests that defined the revolution, several demonstrations continued in April and May, as protestors became increasingly upset over how the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces were handling the situation.
On May 27, there was a massive protest known as the “Second Friday of Anger,” or the “Second Revolution.” Hundreds of thousands of protestors returned to Tahrir Square demanding for the eradication of military trials for civilians, and for the Egyptian Constitution to be made before the Parliament Elections and for the entire old regime and those who killed protestors in January and February to be put on fair trial.
Recently, the demonstrations have not ended. On July 1, in what was known as the “Friday of Retribution,” tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Suez, Alexandria and Tahrir Square in Cairo, to voice frustration with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for what they called the "slow pace of change" five months after the revolution. Some also feared that the military is to rule Egypt indefinitely.
One week later, demonstrators came together again and demanded immediate reforms and swifter prosecution of former officials from the ousted government. And in a first major protest directed squarely at Egypt’s transitional military rulers held last week, the demonstration ended in violence showing the divide between those who want swift change in government by going to the streets and raising their concerns and those who were more concerned about economic stability.
What’s even more troubling is the issue of the former President Mubarak and whether he will actually ever stand trial. Though a date is set for August 3, many political activists believe this is just an element of political theater and are already planning demonstrations for August 5, since the trial will almost certainly be postponed.
The prospect of a once-untouchable autocrat brought down before the law has captivated the world. Some in power fear that a trial will embolden protesters in other countries. Some in the streets of those countries worry it could harden the resolve of embattled leaders not to give up power. Some warn of an explosion of rage if Mr. Mubarak fails to appear on schedule in the metal cage that Egyptian courts use as a docket.
Egypt’s revolution started off promising, as an example of how the people who have been oppressed can use non-violent actions to put pressure on dictators or a corrupt government. To date, the Egyptian Revolution has sparked a number of protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Yemen and Syria. Now however, as many things have not turned out exactly as planned in Egypt, the future of the nation is unclear. Some people are still very much in “demonstration mode,” more than ready to take the streets while others who may have supported the cause in the beginning have gotten weary and want a return to normalcy.
Though it may have appeared that the movement was a swift uprooting of a corrupt government, it was clear that once the main demonstrations were done it would not be over. In fact, it was just the beginning. Not only do the people now have to deal with the current indefinite power of the military but they must also combat the rise of power and influence of Islamist forces in the secular country. With such uncertainty plaguing the country there is always the fear of a rise in religious radicalism.
For now, all the world can seemingly do is just wait and watch to see what happens. The situation is still tense as many demands from protestors are still to be met. Will Mubarak go on trial? That seems to be the most burning question as of now, because if he does it will be the mark of a completely successful revolution. If he does not, which it seems may be the case, unrest will continue indefinitely.
Despite all this, we must not forget what Egypt’s revolution accomplished and what it meant for similar nations, especially in Africa. Unhappy with their situation and the way the country was being governed, it was the young people who took to social media outlets to garner support from other youth to do something about injustices citizens suffered everyday. As some people tend to see the current population of young adults as a “do nothing” generation when it comes to politics and other related issues, it goes to show that the youth still want to stand up in what they believe in.
Women had a strong part in the revolution also, taking leadership roles in demonstrations and updating the world on what was going on during early demonstrations through blogs and other online outlets. This generation of women in Egypt is the most educated in the country’s history, representing more than half of the university population. Regardless of things still having lots of room for improvement we must continue to show our support for this type of strength of one’s beliefs and applaud the courage that many of these young men and women displayed, in spite of going against the odds.
Photo credit: Associated Press