Not seen on such a large scale in the Middle East since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 despite numerous attempts to rally against dubious dictatorships, the world awoke to the disturbing images of Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia which led to a succession of rebellions in 2010.
The “Arab Spring”, they called it. ‘They’, being the hurried journalists keen to declare and define all protests in the region in as general terms as possible without fully understanding its roots. Numerous media platforms in the UK, Europe and the US were just as hasty to call the end of the “Arab struggle” at the sign of the smallest concessions provided by the corrupt in power, such as the appointment of Morsi or the Ben Ali’s court case. The lack of understanding or desire to truly explain the highly developed systems of power that enabled Arab dictators to remain seated comfortably on their thrones of gold, encouraged by money and our complacent and impulsive culture that feeds off fast information, means that at present Arab revolutions have taken a backseat in the media circus and are often reported as tales of hopelessness and lost opportunity. The uprisings provided the perfect environment which planted seeds of change across the MENA region and we should not expect a flourishing orchard to develop on our timelines or twitter feeds in a few hundred days. If historians agree that the French Revolution showed signs of ending after a decade, we would be fooling ourselves to expect anything less considering the current developed, entrenched and controlling systems of corruption.
Tunisia is a particularly hopeful case, with genuinely quantifiable and progressive advancements in their own democracy and social system with healthy debate no longer confined to whispers in the shadows. Such advancements in the constitution include; a dedication to ending environmental pollution, the right of every individual access to good quality health services, a commitment to supporting and aiding development of women’s rights, the right to organise in trade unions and equal pay amongst men and women. Three weeks after the revolution began in Tahrir, Mubarak stepped aside to take part in what should be considered a mock court – or at least one that has been comfortable enough to laugh in the face of all those who lost their livelihoods and blood under Mubarak’s regime. This court acquitted him of many of his publicised acts against the Egyptian people. All the while, the system remains just as ineffective.
Those who were in governmental and economic positions of influence before the 2011 uprising still overtly revel in their lives of luxury despite some appearing before the courts only to leave with a gentle slap on the wrist. This unbelievable reality has led to a proportion of society looking back at Mubarak’s rule with nostalgia because “at least there was stability”. Those with stakes in Egypt’s riches still have a firm grip on the seat of power and prosperity but the foundation upon which they rest is showing signs of wear, the sands are shifting and with time and momentum, Egypt, alongside its neighbours, will be able to rebuild their realities into something stronger, filled with peace and prosperity.
Keep reading, keep discussing, keep supporting and keep hope. It wasn’t for nothing.