Unity of Tahrir has dissolved as 'new Egypt' proves elusive
A YEAR ago, tens of thousands of Egyptians responded to a call by internet activists to protest against police brutality by taking to the streets and squares of their country and launching an uprising that toppled 30-year Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Demonstrators, who numbered 50,000 in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square alone, were attacked by armed police and plain-clothes interior ministry “thugs” seeking to clear the square. But the protesters remained and fought off constant assaults for 18 days until the armed forces high command sided with the protesters and staged a coup against Mubarak.
The generals pledged to speed up the transition to multiparty democracy and hand over to a civilian authority within six months. This was not honoured.
Today the generals are set to commemorate the dramatic popular uprising that caught the imagination of people around the world. But activists who caused the uprising are calling for the ousting of the military council, which continues to wield power even though it has overseen the dissolution of the old people’s assembly and the election of a new parliament, which was inaugurated on Monday.
Unfortunately, the unity of purpose that powered the uprising quickly dissipated. More than 50 revolutionary movements, factions, alliances and parties are behind today’s demonstrations.
However, the majority of Egyptians, weary of constant protests, strikes and disruptions, simply seek a quiet life. They have repudiated activists seeking protracted revolution by voting for constitutional amendments proposed by the generals and have given Muslim fundamentalist parties, prepared to collude with the military, overwhelming control of the people’s assembly.
In the run-up to today’s protests, the revolutionaries were squabbling over arrangements and objectives.