Middle East, Africa

9 years after Egypt's uprising, change remains elusive

In 2011, Egyptian protesters took to streets chanting 'Bread, freedom and social justice!’ but their demands remain unmet

9 years after Egypt's uprising, change remains elusive


Nine years have passed since Egypt's Jan. 25-revolution, which was mainly led by youths hoping for lasting change and a better future for their country, but it remains an elusive dream.

Egyptians began breaking free from their fear of the authorities and notorious security forces after a young man named Khaled Saeed died in police custody in June 2010.

A photo of his distorted face due to apparent torture went viral online, sparking anger and protests against the Egyptian regime.

Negative sentiment continued to grow against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, especially with major rejection prevailing at the time against his son Gamal, who was being portrayed by local mainstream media as a potential successor to his father.

In December 2010, a Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire to protest the humiliation and harassment he suffered at the hands of a police officer.

The incident sparked the anti-regime protests later known as the "Arab Spring," which exploded onto the streets of Egypt on Jan. 25, 2011.

Inspired by Tunisia, Egyptians protested against unemployment and corruption while Egyptian security responded with violence, killing hundreds of people.

The ensuing demonstrations ended Mubarak’s 30-year reign of power on Feb. 11, 2011.

But as Mubarak stepped down, he asked the military to form a new government.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was established, dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution.
On June 14, 2012, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved a post-revolution parliament in which the Muslim Brotherhood had won the majority of seats.

The country witnessed its first-ever free presidential elections on June 16, 2012, in a two-day voting process.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi narrowly beat Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister, with 51.73% of the vote, becoming Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president.

On Aug. 12, 2012, Morsi appointed Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as his defense minister, replacing long-serving army chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

He issued a presidential decree on Nov. 22, 2012, immunizing his decisions from a judicial establishment that remained largely controlled by Mubarak loyalists. The move triggered widespread protests and calls for Morsi to step down.

In mid-December 2012, a draft constitution supported by Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood and its allies was accepted with 63.8% of the vote in a nationwide referendum.

In late January 2013, Morsi imposed a state of emergency in Egypt’s canal cities due to deadly clashes with security and protestors, prompting further protests in which security forces refused to intervene. The unrest took place after an Egyptian court sentenced 21 to death over Port Said massacre which took place in February 2012 in which 72 football fans were crushed to death.

On June 30, 2013, and on the first anniversary of Morsi’s assumption of the presidency -- amid persuasion from the local media -- major protests erupted against him mainly in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in other cities in which demonstrators demanded that Morsi step down as president.

The army led by Sisi warned it would step in if national reconciliation could not be achieved and then removed Morsi from office and took him into custody on July 3, 2013.

Sisi assumed executive power, suspending the constitution and issuing arrest warrants for Muslim Brotherhood officials who faced accusations of collaborating with foreign powers and espionage.

Supreme Court head Adly Mansour was made Egypt’s interim president while Sisi unveiled a "roadmap" for Egypt’s political future.

Morsi's supporters staged a major sit-in on July 5, 2013, against the military coup in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in which tens of thousands of people participated.

As the anti-coup demonstration took place amid heavy-handed moves by security, 84 pro-Morsi protestors were killed by security forces near the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo on July 8, 2013.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in mid-July began to provide the coup regime with financial support, pledging billions of dollars to prop up the country’s ailing economy.

On Aug. 14, 2013, more than a thousand people were killed when security forces violently cleared sit-ins in Cairo’s Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya squares, sparking nationwide protests.

In the ensuing weeks, security forces dispersed pro-Morsi demonstrations with increasing ferocity, killing scores of protesters and arresting thousands of people including journalists across the country.
The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a "terrorist" organization by the country's coup government on Dec. 25, 2013.

After resigning as defense minister, Sisi won presidential elections with 96.9% of the vote in polls that took place for three days starting on May 26, 2014, that was marred by widespread irregularities.
On Nov. 29, 2014, a Cairo court acquitted former President Mubarak of corruption charges and charges of having ordered the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising in 2011.

In May 2015, Morsi and 100 other Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced to death over criminal charges. The sentences remained subject to appeal and were not carried out.

After his first presidential term, Sisi was re-elected to a second term in June 2018, which was set to expire in 2022.

However, constitutional amendments prepared by parliament were approved in a referendum in April 2019 by which the presidential term was increased from four to six years and exceptionally allowed incumbent President Sisi to have the right to run for a third term and stay in power until 2030.

On June 17, 2019, Morsi died after falling into a coma inside his soundproof glass cage during his trial on "espionage" charges.
Nine years on, however, protesters’ demands for “bread, freedom and social justice” have gone largely unmet.

Calls for protesting on Jan. 25 to mark the ninth anniversary are trending on Twitter without any real activity on the streets amid expected tight security measures.

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