News / Middle East

    One Year On, Egypt's Revolutionaries See Work in Progress

    A worker makes repairs to a fence outside the People's Assembly as final preparations are made for the opening session January 23 of the first post-Hosni Mubarak parliament session, several days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Egypt's revolution, in
    A worker makes repairs to a fence outside the People's Assembly as final preparations are made for the opening session January 23 of the first post-Hosni Mubarak parliament session, several days ahead of the one-year anniversary of Egypt's revolution, in
    Elizabeth Arrott

    One year after defiant Egyptians took to the streets demanding change, the change that came is not what many envisioned on the anniversary of the January 25 revolution.

    The millions who poured into Tahrir Square last year came from all walks of life: the poor, the middle class, Muslims and Christians. But the seeds of the uprising were largely planted by the young and the secular. They were the Facebook activists, the Twitter organizers, and they became the face of the revolution.

    One year later, it is the Muslim Brotherhood, largely absent from the early days of the revolt, which now dominates the first popularly elected body of the new Egypt, leaving many  young activists, like Hanan Abdel Alim, unhappy.

    "I think this council came on the blood of the people who died in the [Tahrir] Square and we're here to remind them that it was a revolution that brought them this council," said Alim.

    Pro-democracy, Islamist views

    For pro-democracy activists, their fight has been bittersweet: They called for the voice of the people to be heard, and are now hearing that people want Islamists.

    Not everyone despairs. Some, like Sameh Abdel Azim, are optimistic that this will be an unbiased parliament, able to stand up to other powers, including the current military rulers.

    "These people are elected from the Egyptian people and we trust our choice, and we trust that they will follow our hopes, insha'allah. We hope that this new parliament is different from the past and we are in a new environment after the revolution," said Azim.

    Other activists dismiss the Islamist ascendency as a distraction. Human rights activist Gasser Razek said the debate about a secular state versus a religious one is "completely artificial."

    "Egypt has never been a secular state, Egypt has always been somewhere in the middle: simple things, [for example] inheritance. You do not inherit according to a civilian law. You inherit according to sharia, and you inherit according to rules that the church sets. A Christian man cannot marry a Muslim woman; there is no civil marriage in this country," said Razek.

    Working together, with military


    What is new, many say, is the need to get along. The country's problems are such that the Muslim Brotherhood has made clear it does not want to shoulder responsibility alone, and Razek argues that is a good thing.

    "We all have been living under a very repressive, autocratic regime for almost 60 years. No one has learned over those 60 years to work in coalitions. No one has learned to play the game properly and I think Egypt needs that today. Egypt needs Islamists to work with liberals," said Razek.

    The first challenge, some say, is making sure the people's voice remains heard. And for them, that means getting the military back to their barracks.

    The military may have taken a step in that direction Tuesday when Egyptian military ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced that he will partially lift the country's 30-year-long state of emergency, long a staple of Egypt's military rule.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora