FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is There Anything Left to Celebrate About the Egyptian Revolution?

This 30 June anniversary wasn’t an occasion to celebrate the mass protests that led to the ouster of President Morsi. Not just because Egypt’s top prosecutor was killed in a bomb attack in Cairo a day earlier. There was little for Egyptians to celebrate except —for many—the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

At this time last year, some political groups rallied outside Ittihadiya presidential palace to commemorate the first anniversary of anti-Morsi protests. Others abstained from celebrations, unhappy with the crackdown on many prominent activists under the controversial protest law.

This year was plainly uneventful with Cairo streets turning quiet on Tuesday. Although 30 June was designated a public holiday for the second anniversary of 30 June, the Egyptian presidency announced the cancellation of all planned celebrations after the assassination of Egypt’s general prosecutor Hisham Barakat, who led the prosecution of supporters of Islamist groups.

Amid condemnations of the deadly attack inside Egypt and abroad, crossed accusations didn’t fail to come from the two rival camps on Monday. The State Information Service blamed the Brotherhood for the crime stating that targeting the prosecutor general, as one of the high symbols of the Egyptian judiciary, is a new confirmation that ‘’this terrorist group rejects the State of the law and even rejects the idea of the Egyptian State in the first place’’.

In its statement, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood held the Sisi government –along with the military coup- responsible for Barak’s killing saying that the ongoing unrest in the country “set the scene for violence and turned Egypt away from a promising democratic experience towards mass execution, violence and bloodshed.”

Monday’s attack on Barakat’s convoy was the first successful assassination attempt against a state official since an upturn in violence following the 3 July 2013 overthrow of Morsi.

It came despite there were indicators that a major attack against the judiciary was expected such as recent threats directed at the public prosecutor on jihadist websites, anticipated violence in conjunction with 30 June on social media, and the previous targeting of judges and judicial figures. Security forces had been on high alert ahead of the protest anniversary.

Yet, Egypt’s security apparatus failed to prevent the murder of the country’s top public prosecutor.

Quite a fiasco for a government that has made “security” its mantra, with little sign that security is improving.

Enough to prompt President Al-Sisi to pledge tougher laws and tighter security measures the next day. The interior minister came up with a provisional security plan entailing increased security presence surrounding vital facilities and public institutions. Starting Tuesday morning, Cairo’s Tahrir metro station was closed indefinitely for security reasons. It was only recently re-opened after a two-year-closure following the violent dispersal of Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in.

The fatal bomb blast came on the eve of the 30 June anniversary. A symbolic moment offering time for reflection beyond Barak’s death.

Two years since Mohamed Morsi was toppled and one year under Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the country hasn’t seen real changes whether political, economic or social. Egyptians lament the same lack of democracy, abuse of human rights and poor living conditions that triggered the 2011 revolution.

‘’For me, 30 June just means we got rid of the Muslim Brothers. We’re still facing the same daily problems. What has changed?’’ said Suzane, a school teacher.

She complained about the country’s high unemployment, poverty, low wages and a significant rise in food prices in the past year.

‘’I have friends, working in both the public and private sectors, who haven’t got paid for up to 8 months. Others get half of their salaries every month or two’’, the teacher added, ‘’We don’t see money circulating, jobs are not secure’’.

With all the funding pumped in by Gulf states and investments attracted from foreign firms, one wonders where’s the money flowing into the Egyptian economy, and if it’s going to the country’s main beneficiares, namely small and medium-sized businesses which employ the biggest share of Egypt’s workforce.

Sisi’s reliance on mega-projects projects like the new capital plan or the the new Suez Canal, just as past leaders mistakenly ventured into similar projects, won’t do to fix Egypt’s strucural problems.

When will the president deliver on his promises to create jobs and improve the standard of living for all Egyptians?

‘’I think the majority of Egyptians don’t feel any major change, but at the same time are still supporting Sisi’s government’’, a journalist named Osman noted, ‘’People are waiting and seeing’’.

Even under the banner of the ‘war against terrorism’, security is still very precarious as the reporter said the murder of Barak showed. Looking back to last year’s 30 June, Osman observed that –just as street protests are dwindling these days- pro-Islamist presence in the streets has considerably shrunk today and non-Islamist political groups are more alienated.

Compared to Mubarak’s time, Suzane felt safer back then. ‘’Shops used to open until midnight, now they close by 9pm and I’m not comfortable walking in the street when it’s dark’’.

The ongoing security crackdown by the current regime on its political adversaries, and criminalization of the Muslim Brotherhood don’t seem to serve Egypt’s national security.

Instead of vowing to further crack down on dissent or seek revenge by changing law to allow faster executions, as Al-Sisi announced at the funeral of the assassinated lead prosecutor, the Egyptian president would be better off asserting the rule of law and achieving justice to prevent more bloodshed.

The killing of Barakat could mark a new phase in the Egyptian government’s nearly two year battle to eradicate the Islamist insurgency. This insurgency, largely confined to Sinai, now appears to escalate after lower-profile attacks directed at police and army personnel –leaving hundreds killed- since Morsi’s ouster, and move to Cairo. Islamist militants have more recently targeted several judges amid the conviction of many Brotherhood supporters in terror-related cases.

Egypt’s courts are described by human rights groups as highly politicized. Several thousand Islamists have received prison terms, and hundreds sentenced to death in a number of mass trials.

A country without justice cannot expect stability. Else, Egypt could be stuck in this continued cycle of violence with more attacks and assassination attempts against police officers, soldiers, men of judiciary or government figures to expect.

Alessandra Bajec is a freelance journalist.

More articles by:

Alessandra Bajec is a freelance journalist based in Cairo. Between 2010 and 2011, she lived in Palestine. Her articles have appeared in the European Journalism Centre’s magazine, IRIN and The Majalla among others. She can be followed on Twitter at @AlessandraBajec

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail