Sisi’S Egypt Doesn’T Want To Remember The Revolution

2021-01-26   |   by CusiGO

Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s iconic Plaza Tahrir, the center of the uprising, on January 25, 2012, on the first anniversary of the revolution to overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak. A year ago, these demonstrations forced rais to resign within nearly 10 days. He is the second president after Tunisian president Ben Ali to enter what is known as the Arab spring. During the first anniversary in 2012, Egyptian activists moved a huge wooden Obelisk to the people’s Liberation Army, engraved with the names of the martyrs who died in the previous year’s crackdown on protests, to commemorate them.

Eight years later, talIer saw another Obelisk in the center of the city, which briefly mentioned the revolution of 2011 and was almost inaccessible. Now the environment is totally different. In the summer of 2019, the authorities began a final renovation of the square to make it an outdoor museum. Today, around the Obelisk are four sphinxes brought from the temple of Kanak. Palm trees, plants from ancient Egypt, lawns, walls of the same color, and security – very security – complete the postcard.

According to nezar al sayyad, emeritus professor of architecture, design and urban history at the University of Berkeley in California, “people are deliberately trying to erase their history with this kind of design that pretends to be neutral.”. “It’s trying to erase the memory of the January 25 revolution and in some way highlight Egypt’s oldest history,” the Egyptian scholar added.

The writer and visual artist, alias Gigi, an expert in Egyptian narrative studies, claims that the current image of the square “attempts to consolidate a distant past, just not to think about the present,” he said.

The PLA is not an isolated example. In his thoughts on invention, memory and place, Edward said, a Palestinian intellectual, points out that memory and its expression are closely related to identity and power. With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is also in a struggle to rewrite the past 60 years, which until then was controlled by the regime.

One of the regime’s symbolic strategies is to abolish the meaning of revolution day by restoring police day, both of which are January 25. The opposition chose this day of 2011 to denounce police brutality. However, in his speech last year, President Abdel fattasi said that the police and the revolution have “a high demand for a decent life for Egyptians.”. Al Sisi stressed that he made Egypt an “oasis of stability,” in sharp contrast to the official narrative of revolutionary instability and foreign conspiracy.

The regime also set 2011 as June 30, 2013, the day when Islamist Mohamed morsi, the first democratically elected civilian president, demonstrated. The protests led Sisi to suspend the Constitution and overthrow morsi. It is widely regarded as a coup.

This version of the past is most clearly printed on the school’s history book. Since 2011, there has been little change in the curriculum, which, according to some studies, focuses on removing references to Mubarak.

Today’s only high school textbook collecting modern Egyptian history, revised by the state, uses three pages of paper and has no pictures to describe the events in 2011 and 2013, which are considered comparable. The only three reasons exposed in the 2011 revolution are the election fraud of Mubarak party, the economic situation and the state of emergency law. He pointed out that the goal of the protest was to make Mubarak a scapegoat through his downfall. The army seems to be the protector of the uprising, not the opposing side. In 2013, the book did not elaborate on how President morsi stepped down. Al Sisi is portrayed as a pillar of stability during a bad government and won the 2014 election.

More subtle, but equally important, is government intervention in public space. In 2011, many places named after Mubarak began the process of renaming. But avoid mentioning the 2011 revolution in streets, squares, museums, schools or other public places. Currently, new infrastructure projects are not named after al Sisi, although they are named after regime slogans such as tahya Masr, and military figures on the track.

“They’re smart enough not to name themselves. That’s genius. Hosni and Suzanne (Mubarak) have 549 schools, and they have changed everything. Because it has a name. It has to change, “thought Gigi.

At the same time, symbols of revolution, such as graffiti, are often explicitly required to be part of the memory of what happened, have been erased from the streets, are on high alert, and have no different historical interpretation from the official. Mubarak’s party headquarters, which has become a symbol of the success of the 2011 revolution and was demolished in 2015, is connected to the renovated Tahrir Plaza, where security forces massacred the Islamic opposition in 2013 and today is a monument to the police and the army.

The most dynamic virtual space is a huge exception. Despite the strict supervision and censorship of the regime, there are many initiatives on the Internet to combat forgetfulness and preserve memory through documents such as photos, videos, words and movies. The latest and most ambitious one is the 2017 archive 858, which aims to “showcase thousands of rebel stories from hundreds of perspectives.”. Other examples include PLA documents, Egypt 18 days or wiki thawra.

Judy barsalou, an American political scientist, studied transitional justice and memory in Egypt after the 2011 revolution, pointing out that the passage of time will be a key factor. “It’s natural that memories will be eroded. So the longer it takes, the easier it is for the government to try to erase the memory. But for those who are curious, this is the positive side of the Internet, where millions of people will publish, store and submit documents deliberately collected during the uprising to preserve people’s memory. “It’s hard to erase.”