On the anniversary of the January revolution, repression escalates despite the absence of calls to protest

For the first time in 10 years, calls to protest and go to the street in Egypt to commemorate the 25 January 2011 revolution are absent; however, the regime’s repression has escalated. This comes in conjunction with the tightening of security measures in Cairo and the rest of the governorates during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

A full decade after the January revolution, the new generation who led the revolution, who are in their mid to late twenties, are between the homeless in exile abroad or imprisoned inside. Therefore, this generation is no longer fit to lead a new revolution, according to observers who believe that a condition for a new revolution is the presence of a new generation that comes out of the old revolution’s burdens, complexities, and pain. It took Egyptians more than 30 years since their penultimate protest in 1977, known as the Bread Uprising, before the new revolution in January 2011.

Mamdouh Al-Munir, director of the International Institute for Political Science and Strategy, believes that the current generation has been formed through pain and wounds, and it has grown and matured far beyond its age. He explained that the past generations were raised in the midst of meekness and non-struggle during the late President Hosni Mubarak’s days, despite the regime’s injustice and brutality at the time, but it was limited. He added, “As for the current younger generation, it suffers, in my opinion, from injustice without limits or restrictions, which makes it stronger and stronger.”

Al-Munir emphasised that the revolution has not died, explaining that this talk is not a wishful analysis, but studies and political science research confirms the maturity of the revolutionary generation and its willingness to carry its torch in light of the inflated stock of injustice and oppression and the deterioration of the economic situation. He pointed out that what is happening in Egypt could lead to a societal explosion if received by a smart and wise leadership of the opposition that could turn it into a new revolution. Al-Munir does not exclude the possibility that the new revolution will be formed from different and new sects, as the remnants of the Mubarak regime that the revolution toppled after being affected by the current system could participate in it in retaliation for their interests and lost influence.

Activists believe that the calls to disembark this year were exhausted months before they were due when the former army contractor and actor Muhammad Ali called on the Egyptians to protest against the regime. These calls were increased by the deterioration of the living situation, the coronavirus outbreak, the law on reconciliation in building violations, and the subsequent removal of thousands of homes, which inflamed Egyptians’ anger. At that time, the country witnessed a mobilisation and increased security. Despite this, protests were driven by all this anger in some villages and small cities, especially in Upper Egypt, but they remained limited and unable to develop and change.

Before the protests expanded, the security forces arrested hundreds of protesters, including children and women, and raided thousands of participants’ homes. In the following days, the security forces arrested more citizens until the number of detainees reached 4,321, according to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (an independent human rights organisation) last October. In order not to repeat these scenes on the anniversary of the revolution, the authorities worked to impose a pre-emptive crackdown to ward off any new calls from the cradle. Perhaps the authorities’ last decisions were to refer some crimes from the public prosecution office to the emergency state security courts. These crimes included gathering, disrupting transportation, intimidation, and compromising peace. This government decision shall take effect from one o’clock on the eve of the revolution’s anniversary.

On the eve of the anniversary of the revolution, the decision to extend the state of emergency came into effect, a decision that the House of Representatives agreed on a few days ago, a decision to extend it for three months. During the past few days, the security forces launched a campaign to arrest citizens and search their phones on Cairo’s streets, increasingly as the anniversary approached, according to what was documented by the We Record human rights platform. Unusually, however, human rights reports documenting security raids and arrest campaigns among citizens and activists, which are active ahead of the anniversary of the revolution, are also absent at all times of this year.

The corona crisis and the precautionary measures were also not lost as the virus is spreading throughout the country amid poor health capabilities and a shortage of medical supplies. A report by the French News Agency issued a few days ago said that cruelty is Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s weapon to prevent another recurrence of January 25, indicating that the tenth anniversary of the January revolution is taking place in Egypt amid a state of control over politics and the evaporation of the freedoms and gains the uprising achieved. The agency added in a report on the occasion of the anniversary of the January Revolution that the Sisi government spares no effort to avoid a recurrence of such a scenario and cruelly suppresses all forms of opposition.