Arab Spring

10 years revolution in Egypt – like Mubarak on steroids

Mass protests began in Egypt on 25 January 2011. They triggered the overthrow of long-time ruler Mubarak. Ten years later, many human rights activists and journalists are in prison. The Sisi regime is far worse, observers say

In the final years under Mubarak, there was great frustration over economic hardship. Despite economic growth, little of it reached the majority of the Egyptian population. And so many in the country felt they were being cheated by the elite.

This was compounded by a series of torture videos from police stations that were leaked and sparked a furious response. And when the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia succeeded in ousting the first long-term Arab ruler in December 2010, it galvanised the demonstrators in Egypt. The so-called Arab Spring had reached the Nile.

On 25 January 2011, 25,000 people gathered in Cairo, an incredible number for Egypt. Just four days later, hundreds of thousands were on the streets because the wall of fear had disappeared. People felt euphoria. They felt they were getting a historic chance for the first time after 30 years to get rid of their hated regime.

Initially, it was all about the introduction of a minimum wage, the abolition of the emergency laws and the removal of the interior minister who was responsible for the police state. On 11 February, pressure from the street ensured the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi: Such revolutions must never happen again

The following parliamentary elections, which began in autumn, were won by the Islamist parties. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, also narrowly prevailed in the 2012 presidential election. Yet in 2013, mass protests broke out again. The military intervened, deposed the president and in 2014 the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian armed forces, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, won the presidential election. In 2018, he said that his most important task was to ensure that revolutions like those of January and February 2011 never happened again.

The aim of the regime is absolute control of the country, say long-time observers. The fear among the population is correspondingly great: hardly anyone dares speak their mind openly on the street or to journalists. One activist puts it this way:

"What is happening now under Sisi is like Mubarak on steroids."

Jurgen Stryjak & Anne Allmeling

© Deutschlandfunk Kultur/Qantara.de 2021

You can listen to the "10 years of revolution in Egypt: Like Mubarak on steroids" by Jurgen Stryjak and Anne Allmeling here [German audio only].

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