It has been five years since the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution, where 50,000 Egyptian citizens marched down to Tahrir and occupied the Square until change was made. 5 years since Egypt was a cohesive nation fighting against the decades of militarized politics and oppressive regimes. Today we commemorate the anniversary of peaceful protests and the collective call for the end of a thirty-year long dictatorship.
We started 2011 on a wave of pure hope and preparation for a grueling process of state rebuilding. The coup of 2013, however, quickly destroyed whatever the Egyptian people had strived for. Soon enough, all the positive change that had been planted in the streets of Egypt was hacked away by an excessive police presence. The beauty of Tahrir Square in 2011 was centered around the acceptance of all differences — Copts protected Muslims as they prayed, Muslims protected Copts in Tahrir Square. There was no difference between religious and secular voices. Political differences were forgotten and a unified call for dignity was the goal that everyone harkened to reach. After the 2013 coup, brother was pit against brother, and the nation became divided once more. Is the dream really gone? Is that moment of dignity, unity, and humanity still there, even after the regime has risen again? Are there any bonds that will waken the dreams of 2011? The houses of those involved in humanitarian aid or civil society movements have been searched by the police. Those who belong to Cairo’s youth have the internet under massively surveilled in fear of another rising in celebration of the revolution. Those who have not already been imprisoned live a quiet life, in fear they or their family will face its consequences. The once vibrant cities of Cairo and Alexandria are now empty of activists and writers, who now take up jail cells. Tourism, once the main source of income for the Egyptian economy, is at an all time low. The guise of stability in Egypt is a false one that even Egyptians are forced to accept.
As the five year anniversary comes and goes, I ask that we remember those who died at the hands of violent politics, those who have been wrongfully imprisoned, and those who were granted death sentences in absentia. It is my hope 2016 will restore Egypt’s national integrity, personal freedoms, and fuel for change. To the people of Egypt, we are with you. We are all searching for some kind of freedom.