The fourth anniversary of the Arab Springs was celebrated in Egypt with a climbing death toll that just reached 17. A further 50 people were injured with the greatest degree on unrest being reported in the Matariya district, Cairo.
Far from peaceful, the demonstrations were marred with bombings. There was also causalities in Giza, in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in a village west of Nile Delta where two people were killed.
The political context for the demonstrations must have Egyptians wondering if their country will ever be a truly peaceful place. It has been four years since Hosni Mubarak was ousted and two since the then-army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ousted elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, sits as the sixth president of Egypt after running for elections. He resigned from the military and democratically earned the post he removed from his predecessor. As a leader he is adored by some and hated by many. His strong stance against the Muslim Brotherhood and speeches which can be construed as motivational or dissident, depending on your point of view, appeal to some and appal others.
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for an Islamic reinvention, during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“The terrible terrorist attacks and this terrible image of Muslims led us to think that we must stop and think and change the religious discourse and remove from it things that have led to violence and extremism” He said.
In a region where religion and politics are intertwined to the detriment of both Indoctrinations and a political leader is assessed, more so on their piety than policies, one begins to wonder, at what a reinvented Islam could look like.
Thought provoking speeches aside Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been accused of suppressing journalist freedoms. Human rights watch released a damning report that details scores of detainees dying and wasting away in government custody; many of whom are members of the imprisoned Muslim brotherhood. He has also been accused of prosecuting government critics and gay people.
He shows little reluctance to jail people on political grounds and the twenty three people still sit in jail, who were arrested June 21 for protesting, anti-protesting laws.
Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed are the three Al-Jazeera journalist jailed for supposedly aiding a terrorist organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood. Their charges include publishing lies that harmed the national interest and supplying money, equipment and information to 16 Egyptians.
A statement from Al-Jazeera said: “Baher, Peter and Mohammed have been unjustly in jail for over a year now.
“The Egyptian authorities have a simple choice – free these men quickly, or continue to string this out, all the while continuing this injustice and harming the image of their own country in the eyes of the world. They should choose the former.”
It’s business as usual in Egypt. The Arab spring’s anniversary a yearly reminded to all Egyptians that in spite of their best efforts these monstrosities still occur in their country. Political stability seems an unachievable goal and whoever finds their way into office be it through uprisings or democratic election is more determined than their predecessor to persecute, control and imprint backwards ideologies on the nation.
The Arab Springs briefly had massive momentum. It saw the ousting of the ruler in Tunisia, with the jasmine revolution/ Sidi Bouzid Revolt, long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. The country now has free and democratic elections. After a troubling three years in which their economy plummeted, jobs were lost and living conditioned worsened the country optimistically took to the polls again in 2014. In the hope that with time and consistency democracy might hold the answers.
Libya is still struggling with local conflict. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s is dead but the countries problems refused to die with him. The country is at war with its self, split into fractions it is now a constant battle field, with electricity for less than four hours a day, schools have been disband the economies in tatters and two thirds of its people are below the poverty line. The political situation in the country is too complicated to go into but the ousting of a dictator has created a power vacuum in which several struggle for control.
Yemen, began their revolution at the same time as Egypt. The protests, initially protesting poor living condition and unemployment grew to calls for the stepping down of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and after 33 years in power he signed The Gulf Cooperation Council Agreement. The last three years in Yemen have seen some progress with the creation of a transitional unity government, and the completion of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), a complete break with the past is yet to be seen. The country is yet to see any political restructuring and officials are still appointed based on their alliances and status with the parties.
Civil uprisings also occurred in Bahrain and Syria. Major protests broke out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests had occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Western Sahara, and Palestine.
While some progress has been made the Arab springs failed to bring about any real order and prosperity. The yearly riots and violence to commemorate the anniversary are only taking lives and completely devoid of any kind of structure or political motive.
The problems of the region continue to scroll along the teleprompts of foreign news channels and collectively the world shakes its head and wonders. Paralysed by the extremes of religion and culture. It must be frustrating, the perpetual death, violent protests, corrupt officials and failed democracies. How and when will these problems ramify themselves? If overthrowing governments and civil uprisings can’t fix the region, what will?