Society Magazine

New Egypt: Revolution, Devolution Or Evolution? Sound of Nation

Posted on the 14 June 2012 by Cdnews

By Randa Ibrahim (MA Student , Faculty of Economy and Political Sciences, Cairo University)

New Egypt: Revolution, Devolution or Evolution? Sound of Nation
The former Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down on the 11th of February, 2011 in response to the major public uprising, which began on the 25th of January 2011. The purely peaceful demonstration was organized by highly educated and non-politicized youth, the chants of protestors were idiomatic:  ”bread, freedom, and human justice,” Day after day passed, with other members of society joining the attractive and peaceful gathering located in “Tahrir”- the center square of the capital city of Cairo.

The initially peaceful protest turned violent on the 28th and 29th when violence broke out in the square, seemingly targeted to disperse the thousands of demonstrators who had gathered. The use of violence, supposedly from the regime, overturned public reactions on two levels: on the one hand, hundreds of thousands of citizens joined the demonstration in Tahrir after announcements of its official sit-in on the 27th of January.  On the other hand, the sitters themselves became more determined to topple the president. The determination in Tahrir square to oust President Mubarak caused a similar echo in other main governorates such as Suez, Alexandria, and other upper Egyptian governorates.  Many resources claim that at the time when Mubarak had announced his resignation, the number of all demonstrators in the governorates was between 8 and 10 million.

It is note-worthy that during the two weeks of the public uprising, which lasted from January 25th until February 11th, the incumbent regime tried to present some reactions, including Egyptian President Mubarak deciding to assign a  Vice President for the first time, a move which he had avoided during his tenure in office for 30 years. Mubarak also tried to dissolve both the parliament and the cabinet, and announce a new cabinet presided by the former Minister of Civil Aviation, Commander Ahmed Shafik. Shafik is well known for his ability in containing escalating situations, such as large-scale protests. These responses were, however, described by demonstrators as too late.

Strategy of Calls for “Friday’s Million Rallies”

One instrument that was implemented by protestors during the two weeks of uprising, which sought to increase the number of protesters, was to call for a “Million Rally” every Friday. Friday is a day off for most work firms, an official day off for universities and schools, and a holiday for all Muslims in order to hold the “Gomaa Pray,” a highly respected mid-day prayer that is held on Fridays.

The success of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt have caused a wave of protests across the Middle East: this extended Arab Spring has reached the likes of Yemen, and is currently taking hold of Syria. The “Friday Million Rally” initiative gives each Friday protest a symbolic name such as “The Day of Departure,” for the day Mubarak was ousted. The “Friday Rallies” initiative have even inspired Americans to create the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

The aim of the “Friday Million Rallies” was to raise revolutionary demands which would apply pressure on the ruling SCAF (Superior Council of Armed Forces) to respond to the revolutionaries’ demands. The call for such rallies came from the revolutionary youth or the main political opponents such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The number of protesters responding to these calls has decreased since February 11th.

The latest “Friday Million Rally” took place on June 8th, which was attended only by a dozen people. This failed protest saw the protesters call for a mid-day rally, which took place on June 5th, with also little success. Tahir Square has now become dominated by street venders and is no longer the revolutionary square is once was.

Presidential Deal Between Post-Revolutionary Politicians and the Muslim Brotherhood

The final-round presidential election resulted in the nomination of the two front-runners: Dr. Morsi representing The Muslim Brotherhood, and Commander Shafi.

However, the battle of the run-off is seen by the public and by several streams of intellectuals and thinkers as a choice between the Islamic state and the civil state. Within this context, Commander Shafik is highly preferred by Christian citizens, women, and businessmen, as well as religious groups and other categories of non-politicized Muslims.

Many Egyptian politicians, pro-revolutionaries, and the leaders of Islamic parties are ready to ally with MB to support Dr. Morsi, their presidential candidate. Those who are supporting the MB claim that their support is justified because of the “guaranteed” drafted by these politicians. This support for the MB is largely criticized and mocked by the general public, as it is viewed as common knowledge that the MB are reluctant and unwilling to accept concessions and fail to keep to their promises.

What Will Happen in Egypt If….?

What is the anticipated scenario if Commander Shafik becomes the Egyptian president and receives power from SCAF on June 30th?

The millions of Egyptians who see a guarantee of continuity in Shafik will breathe a sigh of relief: governmental institutions, the private business sector, and the tourism sector will feel more comfort. The general public believed that the old regime had achieved gradual modernization and had promoted pro-investment laws. Other non-politicized categories of society will be content with the presidency of Shafik, trusting his strong personality as a former military member, and believing that he will return the security and stability to the streets after the recent increased rate of crimes.

However, this evaluation is only an estimation, which can be challenged if MB and others supporting ultra-Islamic parties accept the win of Shafik in a democratic way. Whether they accept the win of Shafik can be answered with a firm “NO.” The MB, the ultra Islamic streams, and some pro-revolution youth will not accept the win of Shafik. The anti-Shafik camp led by the MB will try to call for a “Million Rally” to protest the election results, an act which may induce instability.

What will happen if the Higher Constitutional Court rules the unconstitutionality of the current parliament, a case of court that is now under judgment? 

What will happen if the issued law by parliament called “the political isolation law” and the ” disenfranchisement law” became valid, a law that was tailored by the current parliament to prevent certain bodies from the old regime from participation in the presidential election, namely to prevent the former Vice President who was also the former Intelligence Director and to prevent Ahmed Shafik as last prime minister nominated by Mubarak during the uprising?

In case of Dr. Morsi winning, the dissolvent of the current parliament will be unlikely, while Egyptian Foreign Policy will be expected to enter a new chapter.

Principal of National Reconciliation

Although the post-revolutionary political scenario still seems as gloomy as before the revolution, the toppling of Mubarak will be historically classified as a revolution- but for many Egyptians, the political scene could be described as devolution. They base this on the possibility of the MB taking control of the country and taking the Muslim moderate country towards an Iran type model.

Many other Egyptians prefer the concept of  evolution- for them it means the gradual change in process. Those who believe in describing it as an evolution, also believe in national reconciliation and will vote for Shafik in the runoff.

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