Egypt's Revolution in Three Waves: Uprisings Against Mubarak, the Military, and Morsi

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:50 AM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Amy AUSTIN HOLMES , American University, Cairo, Providence, RI, Egypt
Contrary to what many expected, the ousting of Mubarak did not represent the end of the Egyptian ‘revolution’ or the beginning of an orderly ‘transition period.’ Rather, the entire period since mass protests first erupted on January 25, 2011 is better understood as an ongoing power struggle between those who want to radically transform Egyptian society – or what is referred to in colloquial Egyptian Arabic as ‘continuing the revolution’ – and those who are attempting to salvage the old regime. What gave the uprising its revolutionary character is that it went far beyond the demand to oust Mubarak.  The resounding chants for “bread, freedom, and social justice” represented wide-ranging demands for economic, social, and political rights. But more than this, the protesters wanted the downfall of the regime. This was not merely a rhetorical device or empty protest slogan. Often overlooked by outside observers is the fact that the Tahririans named the names of a whole slew of Mubarak cronies who they wanted to oust from power. Secondly, I will chart this power struggle as it has evolved in what I see as three broad revolutionary waves: the first uprising against Mubarak’s regime from January 25-February 11, 2011; the second wave of unrest against the military junta from February 12, 2011-June 30, 2012; and the third wave of protests against President Mohammed Morsi that began in November 2012 and continued until the following summer. In charting this power struggle I will show how the opposition movement has changed over the course of the past three years, with a particular focus on the Tamarod campaign as the allegedly grassroots movement that led to the military intervention on July 3, 2013. The research is based on extensive fieldwork in Egypt, as the author lived in Cairo throughout the period under consideration.