On the second anniversary of the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year rule, Egyptian youth who were the driving force behind that protest say Islamists hijacked their revolution, and they despair over the future of the North African nation.
The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis — who adhere to a puritanical interpretation of Islam — have put their interests above Egypt’s interests, said Basem Kamel, a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party who was elected to parliament last year.
“We replaced one autocratic regime with another one,” said Shady El-Ghazaly Harb, a founding member of one of Egypt’s most influential protest groups, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition. “The revolution has not achieved any of its goals. On the contrary, it has gone totally astray.”
Today marks the second anniversary of the start of the Arab Spring protests against the Mubarak regime that ended when the president resigned 18 days later. Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who was elected president in June, has sought to consolidate control over state institutions. His critics accuse him of monopolizing power.
Egypt’s top military council dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament in June after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of the chamber’s members had been illegally elected. Fresh elections are expected in April.
“[The Islamists] have made promises and broken them shamelessly; they have used religion to manipulate people for political gains; they are turning Egyptians against each other instead of unifying them,” said Mr. Kamel. “Simply, they are killing the soul of the revolution.”
Frustration with the Brotherhood is fueled by multiple factors: Corruption is rampant, the economy is in crisis, the currency is in free fall, the political culture is unchanged, and tourism — one of Egypt’s largest sources of income — is in the doldrums.
Call for a new revolution
“The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t interested in democracy,” Mr. Harb, who is now a member of the Constitution Party, said in a phone interview from Cairo. “As long as we don’t have a constitution that reflects the will of the Egyptian people, the revolution has failed.”
Many Egyptians hope to resurrect the revolution on Friday. Large protests are planned in the capital Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which was the nerve center of the anti-Mubarak revolution.
“The second anniversary will be a new wave of the revolution,” said Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, which played a prominent role in the anti-Mubarak demonstrations. “The revolution isn’t finished yet.”
Mr. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of protesters during the revolution. An Egyptian court ordered a retrial earlier this month.
It’s still “the same old way of doing things, if not worse,” said Mr. Kamel. “Our revolution is far from over.”
“The first wave of the revolution was led by the middle class looking for freedom, equality, fighting corruption, and dreaming of a better future. The second wave will be led by a different class for different reasons and their demands will be urgent,” he said. “Nobody wants this to happen, but the way things are going it does seem inevitable.”