January 25, like all major revolutions in the history, did not immediately achieve all of its goals, but certainly achieved some of them. The French Revolution, considered the greatest revolution in history, achieved its goals after many years, and its ideas were considered so enlightening they spread across the European continent and throughout the world.
In the modern Egyptian era, there have been three popular revolutions: the first was the 1919 Revolution, which spread across the entire country, it was Egypt’s stand against the British occupation, as Egyptians sought to achieve independence and freedom, and this happened, in part.
Egypt acquired a constitution which was advanced for its years, and a respected parliament. British occupiers were then compelled to give concessions, followed by more concessions, until foreign capitulations were abolished and the British army departed the Suez region. Progress in the formation of trade unions and civil society groups was also made, alongside community participation, advances in education, and celebration of arts and literature, helping form a modern Egyptian renaissance, but it lacked comprehensive reform in social justice.
Decades later, in 1952, the Free Officers led by the man who would later become president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, seized power in the name of the ‘Blessed Movement’, which became a popular movement after leading a courageous liberation movement to break away from colonialism in Egypt and the region.
This time, the movement managed to achieve some significant steps towards social justice, giving Nasser an unprecedented popularity which lasts until today. However, the movement deprived Egyptians of their freedoms and took away their platform for innovation. Instead, their hearts became instilled with fear as intellectuals became imprisoned and any element of democracy was crushed. The bitter defeat of the 1967 war caused substantial grievances and erased some memories of social gains made from the 1952 revolution, because it failed to find a free democratic organization to defend it.
More recently, January 25 was a popular revolution, led largely by the middle-class, inclusive of groups of all ages, although the youth was its fuel. It was a revolution that called for freedom, democracy, and justice in all its forms including social justice, but it had no clear leadership and no proper organization. It included all ages and all ideas.
The movement continued peacefully, with protesters making – and then increasing – demands. If former-President Hosni Mubarak had sacked his notorious Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, the revolution may have ended. If Mubarak announced, on January 28, that he and his son had no intention to run for the presidency, the revolution may have ended, partially. But complacency and madness dominates every dictator in history, to the extent that they imagine they are invincible and are on the right side of history, until the moment comes that they discover the opposite truth.
This revolution took a different course, beginning from the afternoon hours of January 28, when the Muslim Brotherhood entered the arena, after announcing prior to January 25 they would not participate. Their participation came after they saw the masses take action and achieve some victories. Despite their relatively small number, they managed to control the course of the revolution, negotiating with former-Vice President of Egypt Omar Suleiman, and betraying the revolutionaries and their cause. They began a conflict with the police, setting alight police stations, storming prisons, and releasing prisoners, including the killers of former-President Anwar Sadat. So, the peaceful revolution turned into a bloody one, in which many people were killed. Elsewhere, thugs, driven by some National Democratic Party supporters, and criminal prisoners, began fights with everyday people in attempt to regain their place and power, and chaos prevailed.
The Egyptian army refused for Gamal Mubarak to inherit the rule of Egypt from his father, and declared that it would not enter into a battle with the Egyptian people, but the Brotherhood’s entry into the revolution took it from a peaceful revolution into a military battle.
The Brotherhood was easily able to attract the hordes of Salafis, and what followed was a battle between the Brotherhood and those who staged the January 25 Revolution. The Brotherhood was supported by the ‘Couch Party’ (Egyptian revolutionaries use the term to describe people who stay at home during protests, and instead watch the revolution through their television screens) and the Egyptian bureaucracy at all levels, until the Brotherhood fell.
In all these developments, there were lessons to learn:
- The Egyptian civil powers are of renaissance and are the most educated and understanding, and they are the fuel of different governments, the leader of science and manufacturing, agriculture, art, literature, and education, since the 1919 Revolution until now. They play the largest role in the social progress of Egypt, but are unable to rule Egypt alone due to lack of organization or proper leadership. However, any regime that does not rely on its support will find it impossible to survive.
- The Muslim Brotherhood, although their numbers, cadres, and active members are not huge, their organization and ability to persuade one using religious arguments makes them the largest organizational force in Egypt, on the ground, and underground at other times.
- On June 30, millions of Egyptians took to the streets against the Brotherhood and were able to remove them, but at the cost of a great bloodbaths, where thousands of Egyptians were killed in street battles, but the army and police proved to be the only ones capable of restraining the Brotherhood.
- The revolution has removed the fear factor from the Egyptians; now they are no longer afraid of anything, and by the end they will force any power to cooperate with civil powers. The revolution also achieved a great constitution, and any attempt to abolish it or remove it from its content will be met with resistance and anger, and such an attempt will fail after a while – as was the case when the Constitution of 1923 was changed by the 1930 dictatorship, before being restored following a great public outcry.
The Egyptian people have changed completely, and one thing which assisted their change was communication through international satellite channels and the internet, making it no longer possible to restrain people.
One force alone controlling the diversity of Egypt’s resources will have of one force over Egypt’s resources will end tragically for everyone. I call on everyone to read history carefully so that they are aware that there will be catastrophic consequences if the people are not granted freedom and participation in decision-making.
In the words of Sayed Darwish, “Stand up Egyptian, Egypt is calling on you.”