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September 23, 2019

Protests in Egypt


September 23, 2019

Eight years after the Arab Spring in Egypt resulted in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are on the streets again against the regime of ex-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Not only has the Egyptian economy taken a turn for the worse under Sisi, the regime has also been known for some of the most brutal abuses of human rights during its tenure. Demonstrations have rarely been seen in Egypt after Sisi effectively banned protested under a law in 2013. Media freedoms were also curtailed as the country embarked on a series of strict austerity measures as a part of an IMF package, but the package has brought little stability to the economy as prices have continued to rise. The latest figures show that nearly one in three Egyptians has fallen below the poverty line under the Sisi regime. The anger under the surface has been palpable in Egypt, but has been kept in check through repressive controls on freedom of speech and assembly. The protests that started on Friday were half a decade in the making. It remains to be seen whether they will wane away or whether they will lead to another Egyptian revolution.

What has been telling is the determination of thousands of protesters to stay the course in the midst of arrests and clashes with the Egyptian security forces. The chants have been unified around the demand for Sisi to go. Almost 74 people have been reported to have been arrested, but the will of the protesters has not been shaken yet. The call for protests came from an exiled Egyptian businessman, and the next one is for a million march next Friday, but whether this will happen remains to be seen. The actions of the Egyptian security forces for now have only deepened public anger. Videos of the protests were shared by thousands of Egyptians, which could point to renewed zeal for regime change. Almost a decade ago, Egypt’s revolution was stifled by the Egyptian military. After getting rid of Hosni Mubarak, it was always going to be difficult for another dictatorship to hold onto Egypt. A new Egyptian uprising could be beckoning, and the resolve of the Egyptian people will be tested more if they are to get rid of Sisi. For now, the Egyptian streets are once again echoing with familiar chants of freedom.

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