Once upon a time, millions of Egyptians took to the streets after coming together through social media. Within a duration of only 18 days, they managed to topple a 30-year dictator, Hosni Mubarak. They thought they won and that the country would flip and take its best form the following day. But they were wrong.
Fast forward. Six years. According to Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, 27.8 percent of Egypt's population lives below the poverty line. Nearly 14.5 million Egyptians were illiterate by 2015. The American dollar is now worth 19 Egyptian pounds. Rates of political prisoners, liberal and Islamic, reached over 40,000. People murdered by the police or military amounted to over a thousand, at least. The economy is disastrous. Oppression is hiked. People are starving. Even the middle class, who lived well during Mubarak's time, are now struggling with the current inflation of prices.
People have reached a point where they wish they had never revolted against Mubarak.
People have basically reached a point where they are saying: Wish we had never turned against Mubarak in the first place. We would have been just fine by now.
But the question is, is this actually true? Mubarak's time was better than now, but it was never good. The deterioration now did not come out of thin air. It's a result of years and years of ignorance. Poverty during Mubarak's time was high, education was poor, inequality was obvious. Egypt would have eventually reached this point anyway, because he wasn't working on fixing them. There's a famous statement by Mubarak that shows him saying: "Am I going to check everything in the country, never mind all this work." But anyway, thanks to Abdelfattah Al-Sisi, who just managed to do an unprecedented speed-up to the deterioration within his three years in office.
It wasn't the fault of the revolution, but rather the fault of its aftermath.
Was it the revolution's fault that Egypt reached this crisis? No. It was the fault of its aftermath. The revolution was an idea that called for "Bread, freedom, and social justice." And demanding your basic rights can never be wrong. It's how you decide to do it that's the problem.:
First, the corruption that was - and still is - entrenched in every corner of the country. Beginning with Mubarak's loyalists, to of course now, Sisi's loyalists who are everywhere; on TV, the Interior Ministry, education officials, economic so-called experts, they're everywhere, convincing people that it's rather the fault of the revolution. Not the fault of Sisi taking a leadership that he's nowhere suitable for.
How will revolutionaries stand against these loyalists whose job is solely to stop any potential development, just to turn people against the change?
This was where both, the liberal revolutionaries, and without doubt, the Muslim Brotherhood went wrong. Blame to be placed particularly on the brotherhood for assuming the presidential office, while being unable to have a plan on how to combat the entrenched loyalists.
Second, were people knowledgeable enough to vote in the elections? Last year, I wrote "Is democracy what we need first?" and blamed it on the people for first bringing Morsi, then Sisi (Not that I entirely trust it was a free election). This year I realized, anyone anywhere around the world might not be knowledgeable enough about what's best for politics. I mean, look at what's supposed to be the world's strongest country voting for a racist like Donald Trump...
My question now changes to, is democracy the solution at all? In theory, it is for sure, but in practice, I don't know anymore.
Third, last but not least, what change should you begin with? Work on economy to raise people's hopes first, since that's mainly what they care about? Or should you change your political system and constitution? Or try to find a miraculous way to convince people with the importance of change? Or do rapid or gradual transformation? How will you do it? These are some questions that must be considered in advance. And I don't think Egyptians put enough effort into this before.
January 25 was the best thing in Egypt's modern history, regardless of bringing an unprecedented dictator with zero political experience.
Is there a solution to this though? At this point, with this amount of corruption, illiteracy, poverty, and the struggles Egyptians face every day, it's very hard to speculate. Because fixing the economy doesn't mean fixing inequality. Working on the education doesn't mean eliminating poverty. Trying to solve poverty doesn't guarantee more equality. Which makes it more and more complicated to predict a way out of it.
Is another uprising an option? Maybe. Eventually. Whether it be tomorrow, in months, in 5 years, or what I personally think is most probable, 10-15 years. However, the questions of when, how, what's next must be planned in advance. Or Egypt will never break free from this carousel.
January 25 was probably the best thing that happened in Egypt's modern history. Regardless of resulting in an unprecedented dictator with zero political or economic experience: Sisi.
The only light at the moment in this whole picture is that, yes, the revolution may have failed, and perhaps died, but the fact that those who took it the streets still mourn today over its memory gives Egyptians a little bit of hope. It would have been much easier had they just forgotten. But they haven't. And as long as they haven't, that faint of hope will continue to persist.
May you rest in peace, January 25th Revolution. For the while at least. Until Egyptians decide it's time to rise up again.