7 January, 2013 — Middle East Report 265 Winter 2012
On January 25, 2011, spirited bands of protesters joined hands in the epochal popular revolt that would unseat Husni Mubarak, Egypt’s dictator of 30 years. Where is the country headed, with a new civilian government (for now) at the helm? The winter 2012 issue of Middle East Report offers reflections upon “Egypt: The Uprising Two Years On.”
2012 was not 1952, as historian Ahmad Shokr writes: Unlike the Free Officers who seized power 60 years ago, the Muslim Brother-led cabinet that eventually replaced Mubarak had a narrow mandate and no comprehensive vision for national rebirth. The Brothers are struggling to govern a country gripped by “anti-hegemony” — a mood of refusal to identify with the programs of elites. As a result, concludes Joshua Stacher, the Brothers have made an alliance with the repressive apparatus of the Mubarak-era state.Hicham Bou Nassif interviews Egyptian generals about the attitudes of the army during the initial uprising. Matthew Hall visits the scene of a policeman’s crime in Imbaba to show the costs to Egyptian families of police impunity.
Bottom-up forces, however, remain highly visible in Egypt’s streets. With an accompanying photo essay, anthropologists Samuli Schielke and Jessica Winegar decode the “writing on the walls” of Egyptian cities — political graffiti as well as more mundane forms of expression.
Asya El-Meehy documents how the “popular committees” that arose as neighborhood watches during the uprising have evolved into social service providers with complex ties to the state. Historian Paul Sedra shows how Copts have combined activism in national politics with agitation against hierarchies within their religious community. And Egypt’s music of protest, as Ted Swedenburg demonstrates, is full of calls for both national unity and social justice.
Also featured: Nu‘man Kanafani explains the cost of living crisis in the West Bank; Mona Atia reviews a collection on marginality in Egypt; and more.
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