The wave of protests and civil unrest that swept the Arab world 10 years ago, herald in some changes, showing that peaceful demonstrations have power. Beginning in late 2010, anti-government protests rocked Tunisia. By early 2011 they had spread like fire in forest and became what known as the Arab Spring; a wave of protests, uprisings, and unrest. Pro-democratic protests, which spread rapidly, ended up plunging the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
Tahrir Square: The nub of revolution
In Egypt, Cairo’s Tahrir Square was the epicenter of 18 days of massive protests that brought together tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding their president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down. The dramatic protests eventually forced Mubarak, who had ruled for 30 years, out of office. The revolution escorted in an era of political disarray and instability in Egypt, which has continued to quell its citizens.
Since 2011, Egypt has witnessed protests, political yielding, periodical violence, and stirs of repression. A younger generation of activists invigorates immobile politics in countrywide display of protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. They were soon shove aside, by an intense rivalry that scared the military and secular parties against the Muslim Brotherhood; an Islamist movement banned for decades.
Democracy returned and sent packing
Egypt’s first democratic elections, in 2011 and 2012, the Brotherhood won the presidency and a clear majority in parliament. Its rise was short lived. The judiciary nullifies the parliamentary vote and disbands the legislature in 2012.
In 2013, after months of tension, Egypt’s political crisis got worse when the army, led by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former field marshal and chief-of-staff, ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the only civilian president democratically elect. The move against Morsi deepened the political rupture. Millions of Egyptians protested the forced departure of Morsi. A crackdown by security forces killed hundreds. Egypt declared a state of emergency.
The military steadily cemented its political dominance. The government issued a new law banning uncertified gatherings of more than 10 people. The judiciary charged Morsi with espionage and unspecified violent acts. He was sentenced to death. The government designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Sissi smushing basic human rights
In 2014, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi won a new presidential election. Civil society was marginalized. Human rights groups charged that freedom of expression and movement by any opposition figures; secular or Islamist was increasingly blacked out.
In 2017 and 2018, the government imposed new restrictions regulating non-government organizations and charities. Growing economic woes also led the government to cut down public subsidies of electricity and water, raise fuel prices and hike public transportation fares. In 2018, el-Sissi was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote, although the turnout was low and he faced virtually no competition.
What did the Egyptian protestors accomplished through Arab Spring?
Since the Arab Spring, the goals of peaceful Egyptian protesters have been denied as autocratic governments regain power and crack down on civil liberties even more severe than ever. Nonetheless, the uprisings have shown the power of mass demonstrations, sticking to the democratic values and ideology, and peaceful protest. The power and ability of social media to both fuel protest and communicate its goals to the outside world proved to be helpful in the saga. The commotion of the Arab Spring also showed autocratic governments and the rest of the world that millions of people living in Islamic nations believe in free expression and democratic governance.