Four years on, Egypt marks Jan. 25 anniversary with mixed emotions
The government is warning against exploiting celebrations to cause problems and destabilize the country
The anniversary on Sunday of the Jan. 2011 uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak comes amid mixed emotions.
Crowds celebrated last year, some to rejoice the uprising, others to cheer for former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Little was said about human rights and social justice at the time, while scores were killed in nationwide protests.
Ahead of this year’s anniversary, the Muslim Brotherhood launched calls for week-long protests starting Saturday.
Calls to take to the streets are supported by the now-banned April 6 Movement, which played a key role in mobilizing support for the 2011 revolution.
The movement called for “a new wave of the January revolution,” according to a statement on its Facebook page. The government is warning against exploiting celebrations to cause problems and destabilize the country.
In 2011, Egyptians were more or less united against the Mubarak regime. Four years on, there are deep divisions.
Increasing polarization has marred enthusiasm for marking this year’s anniversary, analysts say.
“Jan. 25 was the Egyptian people’s revolution against autocracy,” Tarek el-Khouly, a political activist who participated in the uprising, told Al Arabiya News. “But many people are in a state of confusion that has smeared the revolution’s reputation.”
Mubarak loyalists are always keen to associate economic failures, insecurity and the rise of the now-banned Brotherhood to power as consequences of the 2011 uprising, Khouly added.
“Mubarak loyalists regard Jan. 25 a conspiracy, not a revolution.”
Another reason for public disillusionment is the failure of some the uprising’s pro-democracy activists to address ordinary people, Khouly added. He said he expects a low turnout for the celebrations, and people will shun calls for protests.
Ashraf el-Ashry, editor of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, told Al Arabiya News that the “majority of Egyptians” believe “there is no need” to celebrate this year.
“The symbolic essence behind celebrating has lost its momentum when compared to previous years,” he said.
“There was a faction of people that believed the revolution hadn’t fulfilled its demands, and felt the urge to pressure authorities” by protesting.
“That’s not the case now, and everyone has agreed to give Sisi a chance to translate many of his words into actions in the coming period,” Ashry added.
“Egyptians are anticipating the culmination of the political roadmap [set by the army following the toppling of President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013] by awaiting the election of a new parliament,” Ashry said.
“The election of a president and the [upcoming] parliamentary elections send a message to people that the country is going on the correct path, and as a result, moving toward more stability, despite terror acts in the Sinai region.”