Ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Jan 25 revolution, we speak to Egyptians on their thoughts regarding the pivotal uprising. From supporters and ex-supporters to the hardcore opponents, we get people from different walks of life to discuss what they thought of the revolution and its aftermath.
Six years ago today the first wave of people took to the streets in different cities around Egypt to protest the then-incumbent Minister of Interior Habib el-Adly. The death of Khaled Sa’aed at the hands of his officers was the spark to light the powder keg that was mostly the socio-economic situation and political rights at the time. The protestors' demands were simple; his resignation, food for the hungry, socio-economic equality, and freedom. When their demands were met with tear gas on that day, they heightened them to the resignation of the president himself. 18 days later their demands were met and the president stepped down. By now a lot of opinions have changed, while some remain the same. We take to the streets to gather opinions of eleven Egyptians from different walks of life.
Haytham*, 36, Taxi Driver
The 25th of Jan revolution was a joke, but when it happened everyone was angry, and we all wanted to see our country free and heading towards the better. The problem was there was no co-ordination, no leader, and no true opposition to take leadership in the place of Mubarak. All in all, if I had the choice of Mubarak and what we have now I would choose Mubarak.
Christina, 20, University Student
My opinion regarding the 25th of Jan revolution, is that I think it was very chaotic and a lot of people died. I think that some of its goals have been accomplished but the cost was too high. I believe now we are in a better environment, but I don’t think that the current president is the right person; he might be making things work temporarily but in the long run I don’t believe he is the right man for the job.
Abdel-Rahman, 28, Lawyer
I see that the 25th of Jan revolution had no purpose. It did have a noble cause and several noble goals but none of them were reached hence why I say it had no purpose. I believe that the reason it failed was that there was no leadership, and although it did come close to one of its goals - removing Mubarak - it came crashing down with the appearance of political Islamists and their rise to power and the subsequent return of military rule after the removal of the Islamists. The revolution was stolen from us!
Ekhlas, 60, Housewife
My opinion is that the 25th of Jan displayed the worst aspects of the Egyptian people; it portrayed us as hooligans, chaotic and disorganised. I was first a supporter, but after what I saw (for example the foreign reporter that was raped and beaten in Tahrir) I changed my mind. The whole country felt like it was heading towards a disaster especially after what we saw from the political Islamist leadership. That doesn’t mean that I’m with or against the current leadership, but I do believe that right now we are in a better place than we were since the end of the 25th of Jan uprising.
Waleed, 28, Electrical Engineer
My opinion is that the 25th of Jan was a successful revolution, in that it managed to rid us of Mubarak. Although the rest of our demands have not been met yet, the revolution has not failed because it is still on-going - go out on the 25th and see with your own eyes.
Ziad, 25, Art Director
There is no way to determine if the revolution has failed or succeeded in this small time frame - the French spent 13 years massacring each other in the streets before their revolution reached its goals. I took part in the 25th and believe that it is the noblest thing I have done in my life. The revolution is not over because all the people that saw their friends die and the people who are rotting in jail for wearing a t-shirt or holding a sign won’t back down until they die themselves. The country is worse now than ever before - we are currently as a country holding first place for the most journalists behind bars, we are turning into North Korea, hence the revolution continues!
Fadl, 59, Vice-President of a Restaurant Chain in Port Said
The 25th of Jan revolution had its pros and cons. Its pros are that it set out with noble goals, its cons are that it didn’t reach them! Yes Sisi came and yes there are attempts at change but none have materialised as of yet; basically corruption is still rampant, a lack of security in the streets still hampers our freedom as citizens, and the socio-economic situation of most Egyptians is still very bad.
Adel, 59, Chairman of a Hotel in the Red Sea
At the time of the revolution change was necessary but the way it was handled and the lack of planning was detrimental to its goals. As a result we were set back more than a hundred years in most areas of development like tourism and the economy in general. However we did get rid of Mubarak; now we have a real patriot at the helm and real reform is happening. The revolutions goal’s will only be accomplished if Egyptians change themselves first before trying to change their country. General attitude, spending habits, and professionalism in the workplace are major concerns.
Saleh, 58, Air Conditioner Technician
The revolution set out to help the poor man, but what it did is that it made it worse for him. The rich can survive a revolution because they have money in the bank so they won't go hungry if the country comes to a halt for a year or two; the poor man however will go hungry in a couple of days. People like us are paid by day and sometimes by job. I do wish that the revolution attains its goals under this leadership or any other that might come to help the poor man, and make his situation better.
Heba, 27, Operations Director
I think it was essential in removing Mubarak and preventing him from passing leadership to his son - after he stepped down he said that "it is over" and we should have listened since no gains were made by the protests that took place after that. I'm scared that if something happens to hamper the economy again it won't be a bunch of cultured people taking to the streets to protest a social or economic situation, but will be more of a riot by people who are hungry because they don't have money to eat, which wasn't the case at the beginning of the 25th of Jan.
Salem, 34, Local Bedouin Owner of a Hotel/Camp in South Sinai
For the people in South Sinai there was no revolution; no protests happened here and none of the bedouin tribes participated in any way. None of us had anything to gain from it but people were affected by it because the tourists faded away. Regarding tourism, Mubarak’s era was much better than now. Injustice has now increased, a lot more bedouins are suffering from this than ever before and also security has suffered with the appearance of terrorism in the North - we are constantly threatened. Overall work was much better before and it was much more lucrative than now.
*In order to respect the privacy of the individuals interviews, all names have been changed.
Main image courtesy of Velcrow Ripper.