In 2011, Egyptians' protests for greater freedom led to the ouster of a longtime leader
Years of political chaos and economic instability followed Hosni Mubarak's ouster
Today, the country still battles an economic crisis, and Egyptians seem angrier than ever
For a moment in 2011, it appeared that the revolution worked. Thousands upon thousands of demonstrators who had massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square succeeded in toppling a dictator who had ruled for nearly 30 years.
But the euphoria faded as Egypt was whiplashed from one political extreme to another, from the oppressive government of the Muslim Brotherhood to the military regime that now rules. Five years after Egypt’s Arab Spring, the country is on shaky ground financially, unemployment is rampant and the people are angry. And an ISIS-linked insurgency is growing, the terror attacks becoming more brazen and frequent. Nothing seems sure in Egypt today, except that there’s bound to be more fitful change ahead.
Here’s a review of what has happened since 2011:
January 2011: Arab Spring protests grip Egypt
Inspired by protests that ousted Tunisia’s oppressive leader, tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered to demonstrate day and night for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Egyptian security forces battled back, and dozens of people died, but the protesters kept on, even more empowered.
Tunisians and Egyptians started a wave of uprisings across the Middle East that called for peace, greater freedom and better economic opportunity. Some rebellions worked. Tunisia is considered mostly a success story. Others, such as an uprising in Syria, led to widespread and continued bloodshed.
February 2011: A longtime ruler leaves
In the face of protests, Mubarak said he wouldn’t run for re-election but vowed to finish his term in office. Eventually he backed down against the overwhelming popular opposition and resigned. Deafening cheers erupted in Cairo.
“Egypt is free!” and “God is great,” protesters shouted.
Throughout the year, the protests kept up as Egypt wrestled with change.
June 2012: A longtime outsider gains power
Once a political prisoner who opposed Mubarak, Mohamed Morsy became Egypt’s first democratically elected President. A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsy gave a rousing speech calling for calm and progress.
But tension between Morsy and the military remains despite his victory.
November 2012: New President makes power grab
Morsy issued an order preventing any court from overturning his decisions, allowing him to run the country unchecked. In that moment, he established himself as a true autocrat, analysts and critics said.
Several thousand protesters subsequently turned out. Some called him “Morsy the dictator.”
December 2012: Protesters go after the President
Protests erupted surrounding allegations of mistreatment of anti-Morsy demonstrators outside the presidential palace gate in 2012. The turmoil convinced many Egyptians that Morsy was not just incompetent but also violent.
A Human Rights Watch report urged Egypt’s public prosecutor to investigate the detention and abuse of several dozen anti-government protesters.