Two years of January 25 revolution
The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE)
The January 25 Revolution, as Egyptians call it, is the fourth Egyptian revolution in the last 130 years. The modern Egyptian national movement has consistently sought three goals: self-government in the basic sense of allowing Egyptians to be in charge of public offices; independence in the international community and effective domestic sovereignty, in particular with regard to the national economy and the ability to secure socio-economic justice in the distribution of national wealth and income. "Egypt’s prior revolutions secured, to a certain extent, the first two goals, contradictions between the desire for national independence and the desire for democracy ultimately led to the Free Officers’ Revolution of 1952."(1) The Egyptian people discovered that in the absence of internal democracy, it was impossible to preserve the gains of the previous revolutions. The January 25 Revolution therefore affirmed the centrality of democracy to the Egyptian national movement, not just as a utopian goal—one whose practical implementation would be indefinitely deferred—but rather as the foundation for a modern, independent, and prosperous Egypt.
The general goals of the revolution faced challenges with the contemporary regime, as core rights were jeopardized, starting off with child rights, a lot of violations were witnessed especially recently with the ongoing protests demanding the regime to commit to the revolution's principles.
In its latest report, the Egyptian Coalition for Child’s Rights (ECCR) stated that in the clashes (26-27 January 2013) following the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution, 91 children less than 18 years of age were detained by Cairo police in inhumane conditions. "The statement denounced the use of children in clashes, and the state and society’s failure to offer them basic rights of protection. Many children were interrogated by the police without the presence of a lawyer or adult relatives before they were released."(2.1) According to the law they should have been interrogated within 24 hours of their arrest, but all children were detained for four days before seeing a prosecutor. "The statement also explained that the children were interrogated by a general prosecution and not a child’s prosecution which violates the rights put out in article 122 of the Egyptian Child’s Law".(2.2)
Egypt's human rights threatened under current constitution fiasco
A drafted Egyptian constitution heavily influenced by Islamist conservatives contains articles that could pose a serious threat to basic human rights in post-Mubarak Egypt. The constitution fails to meet that standard because of vague language or limitations that destroy the essence of many rights."While the draft upholds some civil, political, social and economic rights, other key provisions are inconsistent with international human rights standards and would pose a serious threat to the future of human rights in Egypt" (3.1).
Article 5 of the draft failed to ban torture, Article 36 threatened equality between men and women, while Article 9 "would amount to a serious threat to freedom of speech and religion. The failure to fully prohibit torture is especially surprising given the fact that anger against police abuse played a central role in the January 2011 uprising" (3.2). Human Rights groups accuse Morsi regime’s of far greater abuse of human rights than that of Mubarak’s.
A statement prepared by 21 human rights organizations urged President Mohamed Morsi to put an end to the rapid deterioration of human rights in Egypt. [“The human rights record over the past eight months since President Mohamed Morsi took the seat of power… are worse than it was before the revolution in the era of the former president,” the joint-statement warned] (4). There is plenty of evidence which incriminates the Muslim Brotherhood and the police in the kidnapping of protesters. Morsi’s government seems to be trying to use violence against demonstrators as a weapon to settle things down until the upcoming elections. The kidnapping of activists and protesters are a tool to settle the community until they can secure the elections.
Gender and women rights; the journey and the ending lines
On March 8, 2011, Egyptian women took to the streets to celebrate International Women's Day. Since January 25, 2011, Egypt had witnessed a momentous transformation in protest culture and power, wherein millions of people took to the streets to demand their political rights. Surprising to many, though, was the marked hostility and violence that was unleashed against women protesters, as they were harassed and shouted at by groups of men who gathered around them. They were accused of following western agendas, and of going against cultural values. "Among the many reasons for this turn of events, it is argued that one of the key obstacles that women's rights faced in the months after is a prevalent public perception that associates women's rights activists and their activities with the ex-First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, and her entourage—that is, with corrupt regime politics in collusion with imperialist agendas." (5)
Along the course of time and almost two years after that instant, Feminist and human rights organizations express deep concern due to the escalation of state policies that reinforce the state of impunity and which refrain from protecting citizens and securing peaceful assembly. The perpetuation of the approach of groups that support the regime in targeting female activists and excluding women from the public sphere through direct incitement and aggression must be condemned. Such atrocious crimes of sexual violence cannot be separated from women’s declining social status. There must public accountability for such crimes as women should not be out casted or tooled for political or tactical considerations.
Fear of Islamic state
President Mohamed Morsi had said, when he was head of the Freedom and Justice Party, that he would not receive the Iranian high personals in Cairo as long as the Iranian regime supported the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, never the less President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited February 6-7 in response to an invitation extended to him by Morsi in order to attend the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit held in Cairo. Egyptians expressed a lot of reservations about the visit not only because of the Iranian regime’s foreign policy, but also owing to growing fears of an established fundamental model. Fears are augmented as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood give themselves increasing power; such was obvious in the new constitution.
"With the post-revolution economic crisis that hit Egypt and the controversy over the International Monetary Fund loan, the Egyptian ruling clique was not in favor of upsetting anti-Iranian Western powers, yet at the same time did not want to lose Iran’s support. But what could Iran, a country already suffering under the yoke of international sanctions and swept with protests against the deteriorating living standards and the collapse of the local currency, offer to a country like Egypt? Several similarities can be detected between the rhetoric of the Egyptian president and that of his Iranian counterpart even though the latter enjoys fewer powers compared to those of the country’s supreme leader." (6.1)
There are also organizational similarities between the two regimes, which were made clear with the recent emergence of semi-militias model. In addition, fundamental governing system is also being established in Egypt with the increasing growth of a religious authority that is supported by the constitution. "The developments in Egypt are also seen as similar to those that took place in Iran in 1979 when the revolution was rendered Islamic even though it was started by civilian factions." (6.2)The two countries are also following the same tactics as far as crushing opposition is concerned.
Development and recent macro-economic (the Real GDP growth Rate)
The political turmoil and social unrest of the past year has dampened Egypt’s short term economic outlook, increasing unemployment and affecting the tourism, manufacturing and export sectors in particular.
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Egypt’s GDP growth was poised for a fast recovery. However heightened economic risks emanating from the revolution have led GDP growth to drop to 1.8% in 2011. Tourism, which accounts for about 4.3% of the country's GDP and 10% of its workforce, has been adversely affected. November 2011 estimates showed that tourist arrivals dropped by 42% compared to the same period last year. This will build on the losses of about U$2 billion for the sector in FY 2010/11, when the tourism sector contracted by -5.9%. As a result the government estimates the economic cost arising from the aftermath of the revolution to be LE 40 billion (2.9% of GDP) for 2010/11 and LE 65 billion (4.9% of GDP) for 2011/12, mainly due to the adverse impact on tourism and FDI, and continued hesitation by investors.(7 and 8)
It could be noted that the success or failure of Egypt’s transition will have a significant effect on the rest of the Arab world; nevertheless the country’s current economic, social, and political challenges are all but overwhelming. Individualistic political forces will be faced with numerous burdens that their current status might not be able to handle these problems on their own. Civil society has yet a crucial role to play at this time and beyond. But as long as the legal and political environment remains hostile to civil activism and public participations, to civil society organizations –local and international- diminishing the pressure force balancing the turmoil, Egypt will be deprived of the benefits of this essential pillar of democracy.
- Mohamed Fadel, "Public Corruption and the Egyptian Revolution of January 25: Can Emerging International Anti-Corruption Norms Assist Egypt Recover Misappropriated Public Funds?" Harvard International Law journal, volume 52, April 2011, <http://www.harvardilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/HILJ-Online_52_Fadel.pdf >, (accessed 10 January 2012)
- Sara Abou Bakar, "Child abuse in Egypt: 91 children detained after Cairo's latest clashes", Daily News Egypt , February 4, 2013, <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/02/04/child-abuse-in-egypt-91-children-detained-after-cairos-latest-clashes/>,(accessed in February 9th 2012)
- AFP, "Egypt draft constitution fails to protect key human rights: HRW", Ahram Online, <http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/55085.aspx>, (accessed in 12 February 2013)
- Luiz Sanchez, "Human Rights Rapidly deteriorating in Egypt: Human Rights Organizations", Daily News Egypt, <http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/02/22/human-rights-rapidly-deteriorating-in-egypt-human-rights-organisations/ >, (accessed in 1 March 2013)
- Hoda El Sadda, "Women's rights activism in post-Jan25 Egypt: Combating the Shadow of the First Lady Syndrome in the Arab world", Middle East Law and Governance, <http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/melg/2011/00000003/F0020001/art00008>, (accessed in 2February 2013)
- Hani Nesira, "As the relationship grows, factions fear an Egypt modeled on Iran", Al Arabiya News, Sunday 3rd March 2013, < http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2013/02/07/264973.html>, (accessed in 1 March 2013)
- "Egypt, 2012-2013 interim strategy paper", African Development Bank, October 2012, <http://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Project-and-Operations/2012-2013%20-%20Egypt%20-%20Interim%20Strategy%20Paper.pdf>, (accessed in 29 January 2013)
- "Egypt GDP Growth Rate", Trading Economics, <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/egypt/gdp-growth>, (accessed in 1 March 2013)