Tahrir, 1 Year On

Photographs by Alvaro Ybarra Zavala

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Tahrir one year on: revolutionary road or own goal?

Barely twelve months have passed since the eruption of Egypt’s Tahrir revolution, an unexpected mass movement which managed to unseat one of the Middle East’s most established autocracies in just 18 days. But ending the rule of Hosny Mubarak and following a new democratic path for the most populous country in the Arab world has proven to be as tricky as deciphering the secret of the Sphinx.

As the results of the first-ever competitive parliamentary elections are made known, the political configuration of Egypt seems to be undergoing a massive shake-up. After decades in the underground, the Islamist forces have finally become legitimate political parties, now backed by a strong popular vote. Secular voices, badly organized and divided, have become a minority in the People’s Assembly. This parliament’s tasks are extremely sensitive: selecting the committee which will draft the next Egyptian Constitution and therefore, defining the much expected presidential elections. All this in the context of a dire economic situation, sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians, disgruntled revolutionaries who feel betrayed by the turn of events and the ever-present military council changing deadlines and rules of the game. Through the eyes of Egyptians who are taking part in the political change, but also through its observers and detractors, we look into the current process by exploring the citizens’ personal accounts and biases. Confusion, change of skin, hope, disappointment, conflicting legitimacies, lack of fear, second revolution are some of the words we heard during the encounters. A former military general, a provocative artist, a potential female presidential candidate, a student, a Coptic activist, a secular party member, a Salafist businessman, an elected parliamentarian from the Muslim Brotherhood, a Tahrir square camping revolutionary, a Muslim scholar from Al Azhar, an activist from the worker’s movement, and a bookseller in downtown Cairo tell us about their feelings regarding the so-called Egyptian transition.

(Full text by journalist Karim Hausser available, contact details provided on request).