FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail