Journal Article

The Road to (and from) Liberation Square

| July 14, 2011

It is easy now to see why Egypt’s revolution had to happen, and why President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty-year reign had to end in the spectacular manner in which it did. Even the most casual observer of the Egyptian scene can recite from the expansive catalogue of ills that Mubarak had visited upon the land: a large and growing corps of angry young people with no jobs and no prospects; the repeated thwarting of the voters’ will; crumbling public infrastructure whose sole purpose seemed to be supplying newspaper headlines about train crashes and ferry sinkings; corruption so brazen that it was often written into law; and daily acts of casually dispensed brutality, culminating in the June 2010 murder of a young man in a seaside town by the very police who were ostensibly charged with protecting him.

And then there was the matter of the dictator’s age. In recent years, the octogenarian ruler’s health had become a matter of state, and woe betide anyone daring (or foolish) enough to suggest that the president could be anything less than fully fit. In 2008, a court sentenced the journalist Ibrahim Eissa to six months in prison for “damaging the public interest and national stability” by publishing what it called “false information and rumors” about Mubarak’s health. Yet despite the regime’s attempts to present the leader as immortal, the specter of his eventual demise loomed over the political landscape. The regime never quite managed to convey the impression that it had planned for the day after Mubarak, that the ship of state would sail on undisturbed. There was an attempt—half-hearted and clumsy—to present Mubarak’s second son, an international banker named Gamal, as the inevitable successor, but this did not sit well with the Egyptian street or, it seems, with the Egyptian military.

For more information on this publication: Please contact Middle East Initiative
For Academic Citation:

Masoud, Tarek. "The Road to (and from) Liberation Square." Journal of Democracy, 22 (2011): 20-34

The Author