Who Owns the Egyptian Revolution?

Who Owns the Egyptian Revolution?


The Egyptian revolution was spearheaded by the youth, particularly the April 6 Youth Movement which put the wheels into motion years before. The youth were also central in taking over Tahrir Square and supporting the demonstrations, along with the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups. However, it is not just a youth revolution it is a popular revolution, where the Egyptian people – from all walks of life – took to the streets with one voice, demanding that Mubarak and his government step down. The youth of Egypt initiated change, largely through social media including Facebook and various websites. And many of their collective demands have been met.

A number of opposition groups have expressed their concern with the situation now and fear the revolution will be hijacked and that their demands will be circumvented, especially that cabinet is made up of people who were hand-picked by Mubarak. There are also fears that some of the despotic institutions of the old regime may reemerge, like the secret police.

The military now believes it is time for stability but some protestors are not convinced that enough has been done and they do not want to clear the Square until the army has handed power over to a civilian government.

As the military tries to restore order, protestors are pressing the military council to immediately move forward with the transition process by appointing a presidential council, dissolving parliament, and releasing detainees. Wavering between optimism and caution many protestors admit the military has started to offer what the demonstrators wanted but the removal of the Emergency Law is a key point that has not yet been addressed.

The problem is that Egypt is crossing uncharted legal ground and in the absence of a constitution, the country has entered a sort of ‘twilight zone’ in terms of rules, but all attempts are being made to ensure the transitional phase respects human rights.

With power resting entirely with the military ruling council, protestors are eager to see the formation of a committee to amend the constitution and devise the rules for a popular referendum to endorse the amendments and the military says this is underway.

The military is keen for protestors to note that they are only in power temporarily and during this time they have taken on the role of the presidency and the prime minister and the other ministers carry out their orders.

To win the trust of the youth, the army has to prove that they do not intend to hijack power or keep any remnants of the old regime. So first, they should establish a civilian independent cabinet instead of leaving the old regime there.

The youth movement is not very concerned that the country is swapping one dictator for another because people are no longer afraid and they are ready to speak out and mobilize themselves again if necessary. The youth have already organized themselves across the country and they believe they will obtain their demands through public power, not through representation.

Protestors, including the youth movement, are not waiting for the emergence of leaders but a political process that allows people to freely organize and mobilize so they can find their own leaders and express their political aspirations. With industrial action also taking place in Egypt, there is obviously an economic component – bread, freedom and social justice. Clearly there are demands that go beyond elections. But until the basic demands are met there are a number of protestors who insist on staying in Tahrir Square.