by Mark Engler and Paul Engler, Waging Nonviolence
Three years ago this month, the 82-year-old president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down amid historic protests against his dictatorial rule. News of his resignation on Feb. 11, 2011 marked the climax of an uprising that was quickly recognized as one of the most sudden and significant upheavals of the 21st century. As the New York Timesreported, “The announcement, which comes after an 18-day revolt led by the young people of Egypt, shatters three decades of political stasis and overturns the established order of the Arab world.” Activists in Egypt, along with sympathizers throughout the world, rejoiced.
“We had tried before. But nothing was like this,” said Ahmed Salah, a veteran youth organizer who had worked for years to drum up resistance to the regime. For months, he had been promoting the audacious and improbable idea of a revolution without arms. “I had hopes, but I never really thought that I’d see it,” he explained. “Tahrir brought tears to my eyes.”
Today, the euphoria of those times is gone. The military, now under the command of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is back in charge, having ousted the elected, Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohamed Morsi last July. Prominent political scientist Amr Hamzawy describes his nation as “a country in fear” that is now experiencing a “fast recovery of authoritarianism.”…