By Taher Farahat, Ambassador of Egypt to The Netherlands.
On January 25th, Egyptians commemorated the third Anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution, a historic event that was closely followed, as it unfolded throughout its 18 days. Tahrir square, the main downtown square at the heart of the Capital Cairo, embraced the waves of Egyptians who took to the square, demanding a better tomorrow for all, with their main slogan “bread, freedom and social justice”.
The square was indeed, a mosaic of Egyptians from all around the country; from various political denominations; beliefs; social strata; and educational backgrounds. Some were experienced political activists, while others were new to political activity. However, all were united in their legitimate demands, and aspirations for a better future for the generations to come.
Such a revolutionary act was unthinkable for many experts in the Middle East Politics. In a country which succeeded to achieve a notable level of economic growth, before the international economic crisis, the revenues were not for the benefit of all, due to the mal-distribution of wealth. This was coupled with the stagnant political scene dominated by the then ruling National Democratic Party. Consequently and unexpectedly, Egyptians collectively decided not to tolerate such injustices, and thus the revolution was born.
In the past three years, Egyptians have taken major steps forward. Political Parties with different agendas and denominations were established, ending the decades long domination of a ruling party; civil society organizations and individual initiatives embarked on several outreach activities in various parts of the country to raise political awareness. The high rates of participation in elections and referenda, including securing the right to vote for Egyptians residing abroad, freedom of expression and views witnessed a remarkable progress. The political and social scene became more inclusive allowing larger role for women and other marginalized social forces in the public sphere and ended their reluctance to engage in the political arena, and to voice their demands publicly.
Nevertheless, the path to democracy continues to witness challenges. There were instances of violence, as well as the inability to achieve economic recovery, and most importantly, attempts to renounce democratic practices respected worldwide, and radically change the national identity, firmly based on moderation and openness. Eventually, the acute insurmountable predicament culminated in the outbreak of a public outrage on June 30th, widely regarded as the corrective second wave of revolution.
On July 3, 2013 a Roadmap back to democracy was announced by the majority of the political forces in Egypt. This entailed the amendment of the 2012 Constitution, Parliamentary and Presidential elections to follow by summer of 2014. A referendum on the amendments to the Constitution was held on Jan 14 and 15th of 2014, and was approved by 98% of the participants in the vote. The Presidential elections will be held shortly, by April 2014.
Throughout these intense developments that took place in a relatively short course of time, Egyptians have proved to themselves and the world at large, that they are the main guardians and guarantors of their revolution and its aims. They are vehemently determined to continue along the path towards democracy and prosperity for all citizens in an equal, peaceful and inclusive manner. Such determination is the main assurance that Egyptians will eventually attain all their aspired goals.