When I was in Cairo less than 2 years ago, I sensed a deep appreciation for the Egypt revolution among the young Egyptians I met fueled by the results of the protests in 2011. These actions were part of the growing Arab Spring movement across the Middle East. And while the excitement was tempered with real disappointment that the newly elected government of Mr. Morsi had not made much progress in his first 100 days, there was a nearly universal expression of hope. Not so today.
Mr. Morsi is now deposed and in jail, arrested by the military in what many call a military coup, and yesterday 683 Morsi supporters were given death sentences in a mass court judgment, for their alleged participation in a protest last year that resulted in the death of a policeman.
Only 50 of those given death sentences yesterday are in detention currently.
So is there still a revolution moving forward in Egypt? Is it, like most revolutions, two steps forward, one step back? Is it true, like Martin Luther King said, that “the arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice?
Walking in Tahrir square in the fall of 2012, the stories depicted by activist artists on the walls surrounding the square revealed great hope in the midst of great challenges. "We are all Muslims!" decried one artistic scene, with the representative faces from those all around the world. Today the country is deeply divided after a brief attempt at an uneasy yet briefly united front of Muslim Brotherhood, Secularists and Coptic Christians fighting for the overthrow of Mubarek in 2011.
The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie was included in those given a death sentence yesterday, and the April 6th Movement, led by secular leaders who opposed both President Morsi and Mubarek, has been officially outlawed. Elections will soon be held, and with polls indicating that General El Sisi, who led the recent coup, is likely to be elected. I wonder now, where does hope lie? What would a "step forward' look like now? How can the faltering economy be moved in a positive direction? And finally, what will be the sources of the grassroots leadership that can help walk the country forward?
I welcome your ideas on this, and will share widely in my university course and here on my blog.
Greg Tuke, as a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow, will be teaching and working with faculty at several Indian universities, sharing strategies for implementing international collaborations within course work. This blog will chronicle key experiences and insights about international collaborative teaching and living in India. All opinions expressed are mine, and mine alone, and represent no other institutional affiliation.