Five Reasons for Engagement Following the Egyptian Uprising

Egyptians demonstrate outside of the Presidential Palace in May, 2012.  Copyright Amnesty International.

Egyptians demonstrate outside of the Presidential Palace in May, 2012. Copyright Amnesty International.

On the second anniversary of the Egyptian Jan. 25 uprising, there’s a strong sense that the hopes of Tahrir Square have been tarnished.

There’s some reason for this: There have been too many broken promises.  Women, who were so essential to the uprising, were quickly marginalized in the months after it. Copts and other minority groups fear for their future. A new civilian government pushed through a constitution that may further minimize the role of women and lead to past human rights abuses being repeated. And perhaps most important, no institution seems capable of holding former Mubarak officials, security forces and the military accountable for decades of human rights abuses. The spirit of impunity lives on.

Yet, that’s only one side of the situation. There is in fact reason not to lose faith in Egypt’s future. This is not a promise that the path toward justice in Egypt is smooth, nor is it a prediction. But here are five reasons why we must remain engaged:


Division, Distrust and Despair – Egypt Votes On a New Constitution

Egyptian polling place

Egyptians line up outside a polling station in Mahalla on 15 December to vote in the referendum on a new Constitution. © Amnesty International

By Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s North Africa Researcher

Arriving in Cairo a few days before the constitutional referendum held on Saturday, 15 December, I couldn’t remember a more bitterly divided and polarized Egypt.

During my last visit to the country as part of an Amnesty International delegation to document human rights violations committed during the 18 days of the “25 January Revolution”, there was a palpable sense of unity among protesters despite the suffering and violence.

Egyptians from all walks of life – women and men, Christians and Muslims, young and old, liberal and Islamist, affluent and poor – stood together against the government and its tactics to crush the uprising. They put aside their political, religious and ideological differences to fight for a common cause, and they were successful.


Army Out of the Barracks, Back On the Streets

The following post is from Amnesty researchers who are currently in Egypt monitoring and documenting the situation there.

Protestors on a tank in Cairo, Egypt

Protestors on a tank in Cairo ©Amnesty International

President Mohamed Morsi decision to give the army new policing powers has raised new concerns about Egypt’s future, raked up painful memories of the past.

In protests around the Presidential Palace on Friday, we saw tanks and armoured vehicles belonging to the Presidential Guard parked in the streets.

Protesters were climbing on them and taking pictures. A few fearless parents even let their children climb on them, posing with the soldiers.

The scenes were eerily reminiscent of the days after the “25 January Revolution,” when many welcomed the army on the streets after the 18 days of mass protests that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak.