What: Egyptian Revolution
When: 25 January 2011
On 25 January 2011 protests erupted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The 25 January was a longstanding national holiday in Egypt, yet in 2011 thousands of people gathered in downtown Cairo calling for a “day of rage”. Protesters marched towards the offices of the ruling National Democratic Party, the country’s dominant party since it was founded by Anwar Sadat in 1976.
Protests across other cities in Egypt quickly followed, notably in the coastal city of Alexandria, Aswan in the south of the country and Mansura and Tanta in the Nile delta.
Protesters began to throw rocks and firebombs at security forces, resulting in several protesters and police officers being killed. Tear gas, water cannons and batons were used to disperse the crowds.
On the second day of protests reports emerged of disruption to social media platforms across the country. Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger services were unavailable, following suspicions that protesters were using the platforms to organise demonstrations.
The motivations for the uprising were multifaceted, with long-term poverty and unemployment underscoring the tensions. Government corruption under President Hosni Mubarak was a key focal point of the protests, as demonstrators shouted “Down with Mubarak” in the streets.
On 29 January President Mubarak responded to these calls by announcing that he would dismiss his government. He also appointed a Vice President, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s former spy chief, for the first time during his 30 years in power. On 1 February Mubarak announced that he would not run for re-election following his current term, but would not step down from his role.
Mubarak’s concessions did little to quell the demonstrations, with an estimated one million people continuing to protest in Tahrir Square alone. The United Nations estimated that by February 5,300 people had been killed.
On 11 February Suleiman announced President Mubarak’s resignation and handed power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Mass celebrations took place overnight, bringing 18 days of protests to a close. Though some public service workers continued separate demonstrations over wages, by 14 February most protesters had left Tahrir Square.
What happened next?
The protests in Egypt have since been seen as part of the wider Arab Spring, which was catalysed by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December 2010. Uprisings also began in Yemen in January 2011, Libya in February and Syria in March of the same year. In all three cases, since the uprisings, wars have rocked the countries and continue until today.
Domestically SCAF quickly became the most powerful political and economic actor in Egypt. Protests against military rule plagued Egypt throughout 2011, with repeated violence carried out by security forces against demonstrators. Parliamentary elections were held at the end of 2011, in which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 44 per cent of seats.
In June 2012 Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the FJP, was elected as President. On the one-year anniversary of his inauguration protests erupted once again asking him to stand down. The chief of the armed forces, General Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, announced on state television that he was suspending the constitution and nominated Adli Mansour, the head of the constitutional court, as interim president.
One year after the coup Al-Sisi claimed 96.1 per cent of the vote in presidential elections in a highly suspicious landslide victory. He remains president of Egypt to this day where he has overseen a severe crackdown on any member of the opposition who challenges his rule.