the global coalition for democracy

Interview: Egypt's Revolution

Interview: Egypt's Revolution


Images of the Tahrir-Square are seen around the world. In only 18 days, mass protests opened the road for democracy in Egypt. We have talked to M. Boktor, who lives in Cairo and has experienced the revolution. M. Boktor shares his personal impressions and his concerns for the future.

How did you experience the protests at first?

For me, the protests were not a big surprise. In the last five years, the economic situation has worsened. Corruption has been present in every part of daily life; that is especially true for the political and economic domain. Soon people were feed up with the situation. We realized that as citizens, we can and must demand from the government to respect our rights and fulfil our demands. The regime attacked our dignity, but we wanted to fight back! For decades, our country was run like a cooperation. Officials were careless about any social aspects, but only aimed to maximize their personal profit. We wanted to say no and show our rage.

Of course, the happenings in Tunisia had great impact. People went on the street to voice their demands; and they succeeded: the regime toppled over after a month of protest and riots! This accomplishment was inspiring and created great motivation among Egyptian people.

What has been your best memory?

The protests have been a long, hard struggle, but people were eager to attain change. The overthrow of Mubarak was certainly the most memorable event; we have accomplished one important demand. Once the news arrived at the streets, every Egyptian had a big smile on his/her face. We were celebrating in the streets the whole night!

Although I was happy about the events, I soon started to get concerned. I belong to a minority, which can be an hindering factor in the Middle East. I was worried that a theocracy could develop, undermining minority rights. The overthrow of Mubarak may have ended a dictatorship, but there is no guarentee that it will lead to a stable democracy. A revolution must lead to an evolution, in which conditions improve.

In how far has the revolution impacted daily life? What has changed after the revolution?

I believe there is a common sense among the population: we are proud of our revolution! We are walking tall, representing proud Egyptians. To hear that officials are sentenced, is a good feeling. It restores confidence; after so much wrong-doings, people are finally held responsible. Most of the former governmental officials are standing trial, including Murabak and his family. Murabak's name as well as his wife's name is erased from state-owned facilities. For instance, the 'Susam Mubarak-Library' is to be renamed and ‘Mubarak’ metro station is renamed after the Martyrs of the revolution.

The new confidence allows citizens to engage. The concept of volunteer work is fairly new to most Egyptians, but it is embraced more and more. While we camped on the Tahrir-Square, we organized ourselves in order to keep the public space clean. This idea has translated to everyday life; for example people are cleaning the streets by themselves. Citizens take more initiative to create a common space.

Do you think democracy can advance in Egypt? Do the citizens want/aim at democracy?

I think that the Egyptian people want democracy, but they lack knowledge and information. Education, in particular political education is weak; many people cannot make informed decisions.

Therefore, we have to increase education, not only for children, but also for older generations. Workshops, discussions and lectures are for example a good idea. Social media is a suitable tool to address the young generation. During the revolution, many ideas were developed and promoted via the internet; it is important to use this channel of communication in the future as well

Democracy is a new journey for us. It cannot be imposed, but has to growth and develop. This process may take time. However, I believe that the people want to pursue democracy. Yet, the development process will be challenging.

In your opinion, what are main obstacles, hindering the development process?

During the transition phase, the army has great responsibility. I understand the importance to ensure a peaceful and stable transition, but I remain skeptical towards the army. The military has a past; they have been closely linked to the former regime. People are worried that the military tries to hinder progress and the opening of society. For example, the army tested girls for virginity on the Tahrir-Square; to protect tradition and social order. This practice created great outburst among the protesters.

Further, I am concerned in regard to the former political elite. The NDP (National Diplomatic Party), which is the former ruling party, has been dismantled. That is a necessary, but nonetheless huge change in the political landscape. Yet, the question is: What happens to the former party members? Many have to stand trial, but some will be spared. The common concern among many protesters is that former members will return to politics. Their main motivation was the gain from corruption and this practice still prevails. Thus, our new system has to limit corruption as much as possible, while ensuring that politicians follow honest motivation.

That are indeed valid concerns. How do the protesters contribute to the development process?

Many new parties and movements have been born out of the revolution, such as the Revolution's Youth Coalition or the National Association for Change. Having new political parties is a considerable advancement for Egypt. Of course, this progress needs time to mature: parties have to organize themselves, develop an agenda, train its members and grow in size.

Nonetheless, you can already witness increased political engagement: on the 19th of March 2011, the Egyptian constitutional referendum took place. The voter turnout was 41 percent; that means about 18 million people cast their votes. A substantial amount given that many people are unfamiliar with political participation. More than 14 million (77%) voted in favor; a crucial advancement as the referendum introduces democratic safeguards. For example, the presidency is limited at most to two six-years terms, elections have to be supervised and candidates can take part in the elections more easily. Yet, most importantly, a new constitution will be drafted after elections are held in the fall of 2011. The referendum showed that citizens are exercising their political rights, aiming to determine future politics.

Thank you for the interview!

M. Boktor is a licensed tour guide specalising in Egyptology, holding a Bachelor degree from Helwan University.

The Interview was conducted by Vanessa Eggert.

Website Info

Democracy International is a registered association in Germany
(eingetragener Verein e.V.).

Gürzenichstraße 21 a-c
50667 Cologne
Phone: +49 (0) 221 669 66 50
Fax: +49 (0) 221 669 665 99

Amtsgericht Köln
VR-Nr. 17139

Full website information here

Data protection - Datenschutz


Democracy International e.V.
IBAN: DE 58370205000001515101

Bank für Sozialwirtschaft
Konto: 1515101
BLZ: 37020500


Sign up

to our news, analyses and features on direct democracy worldwide!


Follow us