It's Been Five Years Since The Egyptian Revolution. Here's What's Changed
Five years after thousands of Egyptians overtook Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding an end to the 30-year autocratic regime of President Hosni Mubarak, the country has seen continued unrest and political instability, with two presidents deposed within three years. Reports of a wide-scale security crackdown at the hands of current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi aimed at snuffing out dissent and thwarting potential demonstrations in the days leading up to Monday's anniversary have left many wondering: Just how much has Egypt changed since the 2011 uprising?
Mass protests that began Jan. 11, 2011, continued until they eventually forced then-President Mubarak to resign on Feb. 11, 2011 and hand over control of the government to the nation's military. Mubarak was later put on trial and sentenced to life in prison in June 2012 for his role in the death of protesters during the uprising. His successor, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt's presidential election in June 2012 but was overthrown by the nation's military roughly a year later following a public outcry about authoritarian decrees issued by his government.
Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed as the military attempts to stomp out pro-Morsi protests. In December 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist group. Three years after Egypt's revolution, a new constitution banning political parties based on religion was revealed. A few months later in May 2014, al-Sisi, Egypt's former Armed Forces chief, won the presidency.
While al-Sisi is responsible for bringing a sense of normalcy back to Egypt following the turmoil that came to define the post-revolution years, his presidency has been marred by human right's abuses. Recent efforts to silence dissenters and opposition have raised concerns both in Egypt and the international community that the country was slipping back into old habits of repression. Human Rights Watch's U.K. director, David Mepham, called for British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the issue directly with al-Sisi on Nov. 4, 2015.
In our judgement, President al-Sisi presides over the worst human rights crisis in Egypt in decades. ... The Egyptian leadership's continuing heavy-handed and abusive measures have included arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, travel bans, possible extrajudicial killings, military trials, hundreds of death sentences and a counterterrorism law that defines terrorism so broadly as to encompass civil disobedience. It is clear that al-Sisi's government is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to stifle political opposition and further erode rights.
The regime of al-Sisi has imprisoned a record number of journalists, making it "among the world's worst jailers of journalists," according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Al-Sisi's government has passed draft legislation criminalizing the use of the four-finger salute popularized by pro-Morsi supporters, Middle East Monitor reported last week. In the lead-up to Monday's anniversary, security sweeps and raids were conducted on upwards of 5,000 apartments in central Cairo, Fox News reported Sunday. Numerous activists and some Facebook group administrators have been detained in the crackdown, and imams have reportedly been instructed to condemn anti-Sisi protests as "sinful," according to Reuters.
Two days before the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising, al-Sisi stressed his government would not stand idle against unrest or threats to Egypt's security in a Police Day ceremony, the Guardian reported.
We have paid a lot for the security and stability that we currently live in, so I ask all Egyptians for the sake of the martyrs and the blood to take care of their country.
Egypt's transition is far from over. Much of the hope for democracy that accompanied al-Sisi's election has faded on the streets. And on the anniversary of protests demanding a new governing system of self-determination the nation's current government appears not to remember the past, pursuing many of the same policies that prompted protesters to take to Tahrir Square en masse in 2011.