President Hosni Mubarak had ruled Egypt by manipulating elections, crushing dissent, jailing and torturing his opponents. For thirty years, the Egyptian people had been patient, tolerant, apathetic. Suddenly, on January 25, 2011, they came into the streets, calling for the downfall of the regime.
Protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square spread to all of Egypt. In eighteen days, Mubarak’s police killed almost a thousand demonstrators, but failed to stop the uprising. Mubarak was out. What seemed a surprise had been building for at least a decade: workers had been striking, human rights groups had gone to the courts, and a brave new generation had taken to the streets.
At the start, revolutionary goals seemed possible: bread, freedom, dignity. Interim military rulers promised a transition to democracy. But the revolutionaries were fragmented, lacked leadership, and had no clear vision. The spirit of the revolution dissolved as elections produced a parliament and president controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, and then a return to military rule.
Egypt: Revolution Interrupted? documents how an emerging opposition created the spectacle of the 2011 uprising, and how its aspirations were thwarted by entrenched forces. Under a new military government, repression was worse than under Mubarak. But as one of the pro-democracy activists said, “I am willing to take to the streets once again. And I will not be alone. Millions of Egyptians cannot be wished away. The road ahead is long and bumpy. But I have no doubt that the future belongs to us.”