What Went Wrong With Egypt’s Revolution: Four Years On From Tahrir Square

Today is the fourth anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Egyptian uprising that in 18 days brought down a dictator (former Air Force General Hosni Mubarak), shook the world, and gave hope to millions in Egypt and elsewhere. It seemed a new day was dawning in the Middle East, so long dominated by dictators in the pockets of outside powers. What’s more, it seemed a wave of democratization might occur with startling speed and a relative peacefulness compared to historical transitions of similar magnitude.

With Egypt under unambiguous military rule once more, this hope now seems naive. A new strongman is at the helm: Abdel Fatah El Sisi, former head of the armed forces and defense minister and previously the head of military intelligence.

The most notable differences between now and the pre-revolutionary period are the increased frequency and intensity of unrest, along with an equivalent or greater expansion in the scale and brutality of the junta’s repressive response.

Density map from Coup Monitor shows the number of protests in different parts of Egypt on Fridays throughout 2014

Despite the best efforts of the Western-facing Egyptian intelligentsia – alongside the Anglophone commentators with whom they overlap and intermingle incestuously – to obfuscate what happened and blame Egypt’s first elected government for its own demise, there is very little ambiguity as to what went wrong.

Inexplicably bewildered by predictable Islamist success at the ballot box, secularists rushed back into the waiting arms of the security state. They sought and found authoritarian protection from the electoral success of the Islamists, whose conservative populism successfully mustered feelings of national and religious pride behind a project of economic and socially centrist nation-building.

Secularists held mass protests demanding the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who won the first democratic presidential election in Egypt’s history. In doing so they greatly aided the efforts of the deep state to create a sense of crisis that allowed the armed forces to step in, arrest Morsi and his government, murder their supporters en masse in the streets, shut down all sympathetic media and generally re-assert near-totalitarian control; public, religious and civic institutions were transformed into eviscerated mouthpieces for a mafia-style military government lead by a sociopathic man-child.

The secularists lack of foresight and disregard for their fellow citizens has been matched by a lack of honest hindsight and of any sense of accountability for their part in the ongoing horror-show on Egypt’s streets and in her full-to-the-brim prisons (where protests have apparently broken out among the inmates).

As recently as late December last year, Hisham A Hellyer, perhaps the archetypical denialist (de-Nile-ist?), wrote in Foreign Policy on the topic of a constitutional declaration in which Morsi stripped the courts (staffed by Mubarak-era appointees) of the ability to annul presidential decisions (which they had been doing with counter-revolutionary gusto):

Morsi, in a move of supreme hubris, granted himself freedom from judicial oversight, provoking large protests against his government. In the aftermath, Brotherhood members were accused of physically abusing dozens of opposition protesters. Not surprisingly, any trace of the trust between the revolutionaries and the Brotherhood evaporated.

Hellyer presents both Morsi’s move against the judiciary (really a move to secure an imminent constitutional referendum), and the violence committed by his supporters outside the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, in a vacuum. He doesn’t mention the fierce obstructionism of the old, Mubarak-era judiciary, which had dissolved an Islamist-majority parliament and one constituent assembly already at this point. Nor does he mention that Morsi, relinquished his judicial immunity 17 days later. From the outset Morsi had promised to do this once the constitution had been voted on and was no longer threatened with judicial derailment by the judges of the old regime. In the end, as a reaction to public disquiet and international hysteria, he did so even before this. Thankfully the referendum still went forward, with a large majority of Egyptians expressing their support.

Similarly Hellyer doesn’t explain that the violence that Muslim Brotherhood members were accused of perpetrating took place during a street-fight with secular forces who were themselves violent – and indeed killed some five Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Also absent is the fact that this was part of a pattern of aggression directed at Brotherhood supporters.

Hellyer goes on to say that putting the “old relationship” of alliance between secularists and the Brotherhood against the deep state “back on track” is a “dubious” proposition. The Brotherhood are still not ready to accept the terms (democracy doesn’t count when you win) that he and other secularists wish to impose as preconditions for such a coalition.  It is a sentiment repeated in tweets like this:

The unspoken assumption here is that the Islamists should reconstitute themselves in the image of those who ignored their repeated electoral success and cheered, or at best looked away, during their violent demise.

His article also massively overstates the importance of “secular revolutionaries.” It’s true that the urban youth who organised the Jan 25 protests, which sparked a more generalized uprising, were secular. But that came after decades of continued peaceful organization and resistance – in the face of enduring and unspeakably horrific repression – undertaken by the Muslim Brotherhood’s members.

While there were significant liberal and socialist critiques of the old regime, it’s not at all clear that most secular Egyptians opposed Mubarak. Of those that did oppose Mubarak as president, only a minority would have actively opposed the military’s domination of public life and the enduring power of the deep state.

It’s worth noting that the clashes Hellyer cites are the same ones for which Morsi has been charged with by the junta’s courts. Just like these corrupt courts he ignores the victims from the Muslim Brotherhood’s side.

In hindsight, one wonders even of the cosmopolitan core of the Tahrir movement how much they really wanted or expected real democracy – like with actual elections, and stuff.

The extent to which they were unprepared can be gauged by the frenzied tracts written in reaction to their repeated electoral losses, and indeed at times written in attempts to stave off democratic competition. Novelist Alaa Al Aswany called for the illiterate to be banned from voting. Leading Egyptian liberal Mohammed El Baradei (a nuclear physicist) bafflingly declared Mohammed Morsi (a high-tech materials engineer) “not qualified to govern.”

In general it was clear that these thinkers expected, somehow, that the bloated role traditionally granted to the urban, cosmopolitan class responsible for interfacing with foreign powers (among whom they were popular) would be preserved in whatever new arrangement. One secular leftist I knew spoke of a “renegotiation of the social contract,” a phrasing that conveniently avoided a direct appeal to democracy or elections. A cynical reading suggests that what such people really wanted was a dictatorship where the trains ran on time and in which there would be more opportunities for them.

Many secular Egyptians marched in support of both Shafiq and Sisi. While Islamists have often acquiesced to the military and police forces – whose main victims they have long been – it is difficult to find examples of large-scale Islamist support for the old regime. Despite all this it has been very difficult for secular Western progressives to accept that in Egypt the people who look and sound most like us, and who superficially at least think in the most similar terms, tend to be on the side of the state, of empire, of oppression, and horrendous inequality.

These (knowing or otherwise) allies of and apologists for the military depend on this inability of ours to face unpleasant facts.

Hellyer’s opening paragraph also states that this supposedly unprovoked power grab by Morsi destroyed any remaining trust between Islamists and secularists. Here again he is both deceptive and beside the point. That trust was long gone.

In the early days – the first three – of the uprising of January 2011, the Brotherhood vacillated before throwing its weight and numbers behind the revolution. After living in Egypt and meeting many people on both sides of the Islamist-secular divide, it became clear to me that one reason for the Muslim Brotherhood’s hesitance was that they doubted the revolutionary commitment of the young secular crowds in Tahrir. This same segment of the population had, for decades, ignored the regime’s horrific oppression of Islamist opposition (and other opposition if and when it did crop up). The Islamists’ big fear was that if they joined the revolution and then halfway through the cool-kids-from-Cairo lost their nerve or their will to fight, it would be the Islamists left to face the regime’s wrath.

This is exactly what has happened, only far worse than anyone predicted.

The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest civilian political movement. Founded in 1928, the movement worked across Egypt promoting Islamic values, doing charity work, and campaigning against the presence of British troops on Egyptian soil, as well as other impositions from foreign powers.

Throughout its history the Brotherhood leadership has repeatedly stated that they see electoral democracy as compatible with the teachings of Islam, and stressed the importance of achieving change through peaceful and democratic means, while other groups advocated violent resistance.

In the immediate post-revolutionary period, it seemed this strategy would be vindicated. The Brotherhood obtained a plurality on their own in the parliament and allied with more hard-line Islamists to form a voting majority. Mohammed Morsi was elected in 2012, defeating Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force general who had been a key figure in Mubarak’s regime.

The election of Morsi initially signified a great political change. The Mubarak regime ruled the country for more than 30 years, using murder, rape, torture, mass arrests, and tight control of the press to maintain power.

Mubarak pushed a neoliberal economic policy, and a pro-American, pro-Israeli geopolitical stance, despite massive popular opposition. Egyptian forces coordinated with the US in their management of the Suez Canal and took part in joint training exercises like Operation Bright Star.

Most odious of these collaborations, however, is probably their role in enforcing Israel’s siege of Gaza, which keeps the tiny strip’s million plus people constantly on the verge of a food crisis, and prevents them from obtaining other vital necessities like building materials. A US embassy cable from 2009 (released in August 2011 by Wikileaks) revealed that Field Marshall Tantawi, who at the time of the cable’s release was the head of the “transitional” military government, had been overseeing the Egyptian portion of the siege’s enforcement.

In January 2011 this popular opposition boiled over. Massive protests aimed at the Mubarak regime gripped the country for weeks-on-end. Protesters attacked police stations and burned them to the ground. In some instances people inflicted brutal mob justice upon unlucky officers. Mass prison break-outs occurred; as many as 20,000 are estimated to have escaped, including many Muslim Brotherhood members.

Blood Trail in Tahrir Square. Protesters have placed rocks on either side to prevent it being erased by traffic.

A blood trail in Tahrir Square. Protesters have placed rocks on either side to prevent it from being erased by traffic.

Among them was Mohammad Morsi. After weeks of unrest, and days into a general strike that had been called across the country, Omar Suleiman, the head of Egypt’s brutal spy services, appeared on national TV announcing the end of the Mubarak regime.

When Suleiman spoke, Egyptians knew it was real.

Apart from being Mubarak’s most feared enforcer, Suleiman was a key asset in the US’s global network of black sites. He oversaw the dungeons where prisoners, captured by the US or its allies, would be brought to Egypt and tortured – allegedly under his direct supervision – before being handed back to the US, from where some were taken to Guantanamo Bay, where the confessions extracted under torture in Egypt would be used as evidence against them.

Suleiman, like other figures of the old regime, fled to Saudi Arabia, and then onwards to the United States, where he died a free man in July 2012 .

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a military council which Mubarak commanded, took over. The council promised new elections within six months of Mubarak’s resignation.  Though they predictably dragged their feet, after nearly a year of continued social unrest they began to implement their promise.

Parliamentary elections were eventually held, with voting taking place in stages from November 2011 to January 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood won a little over 40% of the seats in parliament, and, together with the more hardline Islamists, they formed a government.

Many secular Egyptians criticized the Brotherhood for this alliance. It is clear in hindsight, however, that they had very little choice. The secularists were not interested in a partnership with them. When assuming the presidency, Mohammad Morsi would offer Hamdeen Sabahi the job of vice president. He refused, instead joining with other losers from the election and Mohammed El-Baradei, a prominent Egyptian secularist and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Tahrir Square, from where they called on Morsi to join them as equals in a “presidential council.”

The new government’s first order of business was the creation of a new constitution; a constituent assembly was created, its membership roughly reflecting the proportions of each different political block. This wasn’t good enough for the secularists, who walked out of the process repeatedly, complaining of Islamist domination. Most of their complaints focused on the demand that the Islamists surrender their voting majority and engage in a consensus-based process. The Islamists, who felt that they had made more than enough concessions – leaving the sections of the constitution relating to religion and its role in government basically untouched from the nominally secular constitution that preceded it – carried on without them.

The Islamists also feared that if they allowed the opposition forces a veto, it would be used to sabotage the process. This fear was not unfounded. The constituent assembly had to be reformed after being dissolved by the supreme court on vague grounds of being unconstitutional. The second iteration would labor continuously under the threat of this happening again, and in the end the Islamist majority would, without significant liberal participation, rush through a constitution in an extraordinary marathon session, ahead of a pending decision by the court on the matter. At this point the courts would have ruled to dismiss the parliament that had chosen the constituent assembly, making it unclear how, or even if, efforts to write a new constitution would be continued.

As all this unfolded, the presidential elections took place, with Morsi claiming victory in June 2012.

Through elections monitored and approved by international observers like the Carter Institute, the Islamists had won control of both the legislature and the executive. Only the judiciary, and Egypt’s unofficial fourth branch of government, the military, remained in the hands of the old regime.

As Morsi assumed the presidency, the courts ordered the parliament dissolved over a technicality and the generals issued a decree taking over not only parliament’s legislative powers, including the power to choose a new committee to the constituent authority, but even a veto power over decisions by the president on military matters such as the declaration of war.

The decree also included a stipulation that since the parliament was dissolved, the president would be sworn in in-front of the supreme court.

Morsi agreed to take the oath in front of the judges, but a day before, in a symbolic act of defiance, he addressed the public in Tahrir Square, famously removing his jacket to show he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, a symbol that he was ready to die before handing Egypt back to its old masters.

“I fear nothing but God!” a defiant Morsi shouted into the microphone, drawing roars of approval from the crowd.

Attempting to regain the political momentum, Morsi pushed back. In August 2012, a little more than a month into his presidency, Morsi was emboldened by the armed forces’ embarrassment in the aftermath of an ambush which apparently caught the well-funded military unawares. The ambush led to the death of 16 soldiers and the loss of two military vehicles, which were then used in an attack on Israel. Subsequently, Morsi forced the Head of the Armed Forces and Defense Minister Mohammad Hussein Tantawi into semi-retirement, naming Tantawi and his right-hand man, General Sami Annan, as presidential advisers.

In a compromise that arguably sowed the seeds of his downfall, Morsi did not name a civilian as the new defense minister. Instead he named former Head of Military Intelligence El-Sisi, the man who would lead the coup against him in less than a year’s time. Sisi, it would later be revealed, had been considered by the military as a possible successor to Mubarak should Egyptians rise up, though the military was expecting this to happen when Mubarak attempted to hand the presidency over to his eldest son Gamal.

Morsi also tried to move against the courts, seeking the retirement of Chief Prosecutor Abdelmeguid Mahmoud by offering him the position of Egyptian ambassador to the Vatican. Mahmoud refused.

Mahmoud had just failed to convict senior members of the old regime for their involvement in the “Battle of the Camel,” in which men on horses and camels had ridden into Tahrir Square and attacked the protest camp there. As Morsi announced his move, Egypt’s famous Tahrir Square was full once more with many of the urban secular youth who had been at the forefront of the 2011 uprising. They weren’t cheering against the prosecutor however; they were cheering against Morsi. The prosecutor kept his job.

This was just one of the battles between the elected branches of government and the judiciary, which remained staffed by officials appointed under the old regime. The courts had already dissolved one constituent assembly and the parliament that had selected them.

The second constituent assembly, however, was able to finish its work after Morsi made an extraordinary declaration: until a referendum was held on the new constitution, his decisions could not be challenged in court. The declaration also included more general attacks on the judiciary and the military. He ordered the former to conduct fresh investigations into protester deaths and reclaimed the extraordinary powers the latter had granted itself by decree. These had included legislative powers, which Morsi took over pending elections of a fresh parliament. This was something he eagerly sought, but which was thwarted first by the courts, who prevented him from bringing the elections forward, and then finally by the military, who staged a coup three months before their scheduled date.

In the large section of the Egyptian media that was hostile to the Brotherhood, and basically the entire international media, however, the decree played very differently. Morsi was presented as riding roughshod over the wishes of the people, with fingers pointed to fresh protests in Tahrir as proof.

Yet, when the referendum went ahead (in the face of threats from the judiciary that judges would refuse their role in overseeing the vote), the anti-Morsi protesters were shown to represent a clear minority. The Brotherhood-backed constitution was approved; the yes-vote prevailed with a 63% majority.

Morsi had by then lifted his power of immunity from judicial review, earlier than promised. This action had gone largely unreported at the time though, making the misrepresentations of Hellyer and his ilk possible even now, more than two years later.

These events did not stop Morsi’s critics from questioning his legitimacy. Prominent members of the protest movement against Mubarak increasingly used the same tactics and language they had used against the dictator against this newly elected leader, accusing him of appointing himself as a new pharaoh.

Despite their denials, this put them in an alliance with the military and internal security forces. Press controlled by military regime accomplices published protest movement claims of mass popular opposition to the elected president alongside editorial calls for the army to retake power.

Over the first half of 2013, a movement called Tamarod, which means “Rebel” emerged, calling for mass protests to force Morsi from power. Tamarod collected signatures calling for an early election and claimed they had gathered more than 20 million, but refused independent verification of this.

The combined efforts of Al Jazeera and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley would later reveal Tamarod’s leaders had long histories of receiving funds from the United States. Following the coup, they threw their support behind Sisi despite his ever expanding crackdown leading to the arrest of many secular protesters and activists, including those who had participated in their anti-Morsi campaign.

The climax of the Tamarod movement came with mass protests held on June 30, 2013. On 1 July, Sisi’s voice was broadcast across the nation, announcing that unless Morsi took unspecified actions to “respond to the people’s demands” within 48 hours, the army would step in and impose a “road map.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters held counter-rallies refusing to surrender the legitimacy the ballot box had given them. On 3 July the deadline passed and General Sisi declared Morsi’s presidency over. Egypt’s first elected president’s own presidential guard took him into custody.

The international press – and even much of the left-wing press – celebrated this as a display of Egyptian people power, largely ignoring the role played by establishment forces such as the police, who rather than beating, shooting, or teargassing the Tamarod protestors, waved flags and cheered them on.

Not all protestors were so lucky. A few days later the army and police opened fire on a sit-in by Morsi’s supporters outside the republican guard building where they believed the elected head of state was being held. A minimum of 51 protesters were killed.

Despite this massacre, pro-Morsi protests continued, the main one being in Rabaa square. In August it too would be cleared with massive violence. According to Human Rights Watch a minimum of 817 people were killed, but they add that the real number was likely more than a thousand. We may never know. It was to be the beginning of the most violently repressive period in Egypt’s modern history.

As the blood flowed, Sabbahi – the favored candidate of many international progressive observers and the Egyptian secular left – tweeted, “we stand with the people, army, and police, against terrorism.” By this stage “terrorism” had become one of the many code words for the Brotherhood.

Bassem Yousef, a comedy talk show host (sometimes hailed as Egypt’s John Stewart) who had backed the Tamarod movement, tweeted: “[Muslim Brotherhood] leadership sending its youths to die at army HQs to victimize themselves against the world. Blood for publicity. Cheap. #not_a_coup”

This kind of victim-blaming and denialism would continue for a while, until Yousef himself was forced by the new military rulers – who he had helped cheer to power – to shut down his show, citing “security fears.” By this stage overtly critical outlets based in Egypt had long been shut down, most of them had been forced off air at the time of the coup.

Even the international press was subject to severe repression, with four Al Jazeera journalists, including Canadian Mohammad Fahmy and Australian Peter Greste, arrested in December 2013. These journalists were reportedly held for a time in the same wing of Cairo’s notorious Torah Prison as the deposed president and other senior Muslim Brotherhood figures, such as the General Guide Mohammad Badie.

On 28 April 2014, with the army still struggling to control the country and put down constant anti-coup protests, Badie was sentenced to death along with 680 others (mostly tried in absentia). The court case reportedly took less than 10 minutes. No defense was presented and the full list of defendants’ names was not even read. This was the second such mass trial, with the same court previously sentencing 527 people to death for murder following the death of a single police officer at a protest.

It was not just the top figures who faced threats from the resurgent security state. The Brotherhood’s leadership was systematically hunted down. A Carnegie Foundation report from March 2014 estimated some 2,590 political leaders, mostly from the Brotherhood, had been arrested along with at least 16,000 protesters.

In this context fresh elections were held, which Sisi won easily, having already put those who would be his main opponents in jail.

US aid was officially stopped for a few months following the Rabaa massacre, but large shipments of equipment being sent both before and after this hiatus imply that this was a PR stunt designed to distance Washington from the bloodshed it continued, and continues, to provide the means for. This aid had been fully reinstated by the elections held at the end of May, where according to official numbers Sisi won 93% of the vote. He then casually announced he would retain all legislative powers.


The turnout at the ballot-box was anemic. Estimates stand as low as 7.5% (for the first two days of voting); most observers accept that the official figure of 46% of registered voters was not credible. Even Hamdeen Sabahi, who ran again – this time coming third with around 3% of the vote (beaten by invalid or protest votes) – called the official turnout figures “an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians” during his concession speech.

The same could have been said of much of Sisi’s so-called “campaign,” during which he had several disastrous television appearances. When questioned about unemployment in one such appearance, Sisi detailed a job creation plan apparently off the top of his head, involving 1,000 refrigerated trucks, each with a staff of three to sell vegetables, creating a total of 3,000 jobs, when Egypt’s official unemployment figure is over 3.5 million. Most credible observers moreover believe this number to be a drastic underestimate.

Sisi suggested the solution for Egypt’s bread crisis was to cut each loaf into smaller pieces. He suggested the solution to the problem of Egypt’s slums was to simply demolish them, saying:

We can very well go to 10,000 houses, and bring them down in two hours. Reduce them to rubble, like this [gestures a falling motion with both hands] reduce them to rubble like this, they will be reduced to the ground [still gesturing with both hands]. This will send a message. But will people endure this? Egypt’s problems have not been confronted for 50 years. Since ’67 they were not confronted. And they grew and accumulated, until it became like a monster, that will devour our country.

The most terrifying thing, perhaps, about this last rant was Sisi’s apparent lack of any understanding that others may see him as the personification of the problems that need to be confronted; that the military he led was the monster, devouring Egypt.

Incredibly Sisi’s visions of mass slum demolition did indeed go ahead during the early part of his presidency, only worse. Between four and twenty children were killed in the Cairo suburb of Dar EalSalam when one such demolition was shoddily conducted.

The Carter Center – who endorsed Morsi’s election – refused to monitor the “election” won by Sisi. Before the vote they released a statement saying:

The period following the July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has been marked by severe and escalating political conflict, polarization, and the failure to advance national reconciliation.  In addition to the oppression and exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, there has been a crackdown on opposition and media across the political spectrum and expanding limitations on fundamental political freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.

Many Egyptians obviously felt the same. Photographs of empty polling booths circulated widely on social media and, in an apparent effort to boost numbers, voting was extended into a third day, having been originally planned to take place over two.

The event was seen as an embarrassment for Sisi. Nonetheless, having adopted the title of president, Sisi then met with a British delegation which delivered a letter of congratulation from British Prime Minister David Cameron, one of many world leaders to quickly endorse the junta. They wasted no time getting down to business.

Sisi has been in power less than a year but has already shocked many with the brashness of his policies. The Egyptian army, in a move reminiscent of Sisi’s deadly slum demolitions mentioned above, destroyed hundreds of houses in the border town of Rafah to create a 500 meter buffer zone along the border with Gaza. Residents were reportedly compensated with payments of US $125, supposedly to get them through the first three months of homelessness while more substantive compensation is organized.

Protesters are being arrested and killed in unprecedented numbers. Even the taboos that had partially protected female protesters have eroded and they are subject to violence like never before. This should not be surprising considering Sisi’s role defending the infamous “virginity tests” back in 2011.

An Egyptian judge sentenced the three remaining Al Jazeera journalists – Baher Mohamed, Peter Greste, and Mohamed Fahmy – to long-term imprisonment: seven years for Greste and Fahmy and 10 years for Mohamed. The additional three years are for possession of a spent shell casing.

In general, it is business as usual, only worse. Similarly, terrorist tactics from the extreme Islamists have continued, but worse. A 24 October 2014 attack in Sinai was the deadliest on record, killing 31 soldiers. Increased attacks have also hit targets in Cairo and other built up areas like Mansoura. The group that carried out the Mansoura attack which killed 16 police, Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, has since pledged its allegiance to the nascent “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria.

This author cannot help but speculate more broadly that such forces – the violent fundamentalists – are gaining ground in the intra-Islamic debate between those who advocate violent means and those who say that Islam and democracy can be compatible. The latter position has no better representative than the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, who suffered repression for decades and continue to, while maintaining a strong ethos of non-violence. For a brief moment it looked like that might pay off better than anyone had hoped. But their peaceful victories were taken from them by men with guns and a line to Washington. This cannot have gone unnoticed among the angry young Muslim youth looking for a way to make a difference.

Number of individual protest events on each Friday of 2014. Source: blog2.coupmonitor.com/

Number of individual protest events on each Friday of 2014. Source: blog2.coupmonitor.com/

The depth of commitment to non-violence and moderation, however, has surprised many. Protests – which have continued unabated to this day – have remained largely peaceful affairs. The Islamist grouping called the Anti-Coup Alliance is, in the incidents where the organizers are known, the most prolific group.

Who organized protests (Fridays 2014) by group

Who organized protests (Fridays 2014) by group

Who organized protests (Fridays 2014) by category. Source http://blog2.coupmonitor.com/

Who organized protests (Fridays 2014) by category. Source http://blog2.coupmonitor.com/

Polling since the coup has shown Morsi retains strong if not majority support despite his official designation as a treasonous criminal. Protests broke out on the anniversary of Morsi’s overthrow. During clashes with security forces at least three protesters died and more than 100 of his supporters were arrested.

No anniversary has greater revolutionary significance in Egypt than today however. Given the buildup of protest activity in previous days and the killings of two women protesters in the last 24 hours (one veiled, the other not), we could see even more dramatic events unfold.

If Egyptians are able to once more throw off the yoke of the military, it will not be easy. Nor will it be where there challenge ends. They will then face what has so far been for many Egyptians – especially those we in the West can most easily identify with – the greatest obstacle: not just calling for democracy, but really meaning it.


Exclusive Preview Graphs From Coup Monitor

Egypt Timeline – 28 November 2011- 24 January 2015

Mohamed Elmasry Interviewed About Post Coup Egypt By Austin Mackell For ImportantCool

Mahmoud Bondok Interviewed About The Coup In Egypt And The Rabaa Massacre For ImportantCool

Neil Ketchley Interviewed About Post Coup Egypt By Austin Mackell For ImportantCool



Austin is an Australian cross-platform journalist who began his career in Beirut during the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He worked in the region for a total of four years, for outlets like The Diplomat, CBC, CBS, ABC (America), ABC (Australia), as well as independent and community outlets. He covered events such as the turbulent 2009 Iranian presidential elections and the unrest in Egypt during 2011 and 2012. Mackell broke news of the arrest of Egyptian Alber Saber, an atheist arrested on blasphemy charges. His work in Egypt also included investigations into army deserters and worker-led dissent leading to his arrest and charges of incitement filed against him in 2012. Austin was also one of the earliest and most vociferous of the voices warning against a military coup of 2013, by which stage he had moved to Ecuador and begun work on founding ImportantCool.

3 responses to “What Went Wrong With Egypt’s Revolution: Four Years On From Tahrir Square”

  1. […] Today IC is featuring my piece marking the fourth anniversary of the 25 January 2011, entitled What Went Wrong With Egypt’s Revolution. […]

  2. […] activist in Ecuador (whom one of our editors happened to know personally), and the ongoing crackdown by the US-backed junta in Egypt. We do fun stuff too, like our guide to the best players on NBA 2K15 and suggested […]

  3. […] dictatorship (an unspoken premise that also played a key role in rationalising the global Left’s betrayal of Egyptian democracy). It also blinds us to the factual details of specific […]

Leave a Reply