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What’s the Status of Egypt’s Revolution?

May 6, 2011

The mainstream media is fickle–once the drama stops, it stops covering events. So it has been with Egypt. For those of us deeply engaged with people in that country, the tension and the excitement continue. Every week brings new changes, new anxieties, new hopes and, from an analytical perspective, fascinating new conundrums to think about.

But when the viewers and readers of the mainstream media start turning their attention from Libya and Afghanistan and asking, “Hey, whatever happened to that revolution in Egypt?” their media lets them down. Had they been paying attention, they would realize that

In the weeks since President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign, on February 11, the same coalition that led the uprising in Tahrir Square has frequently and vigorously taken action to continue the Egyptian revolution. Labor federations, student movements, women’s organizations and new liberal-leaning Islamist youth groups have forced out Mubarak’s allies at television networks and newspapers, shuttered the hated State Security and police ministries, confiscated police files on dissidents, triggered more cabinet resignations and pursued indictments against perpetrators of police brutality, state corruption and religious bigotry. They have established new political parties, fended off attempts to circumscribe women’s rights, expanded the millions-strong independent labor federation, reclaimed university administrations and staged the first truly free elections for university councils, professional syndicates and labor unions in Egypt’s modern history. Mubarak is under arrest in a hospital; his sons languish in Tora prison (Cairo’s Bastille); and a dozen oligarchs have had their assets seized.


[T]he New York Times and Western commentators at Al Jazeera have asked “Is the ‘Arab Spring’ losing its spring?” and “Could Egypt’s revolution be stolen?” Hillary Clinton warned that the revolution could end up a mere “mirage in the desert.”

If US readers want a nice summary of what’s been happening in Egypt, they should turn to Paul Amar’s article “Egypt After Mubarak” published in the latest issue of The Nation, from which the above quotations are drawn.

Amar is especially sound when he is explaining that the military and the Muslim Brotherhood are not monolithic entities. That even as the old guard in each attempts to put brakes on some of the changes Egypt is going through (and not always the same ones), these institutions are themselves changing as elements within each gain authority and respond to the ongoing political protests.

Amar concludes:

Rather than abandon hope and write off the revolution as captured by conservative Muslim Brothers and aging army officers, Egypt’s young people are continuing to generate new social policy platforms and organizing strategies. Through this process they are reinventing notions of security and nation, faith and progressivism, and are creating new frameworks for twenty-first-century democracy, not just for Egypt, not just for the Middle East, but perhaps for the world.

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