Has Egypt’s revolution lost its soul?

By Simon Allison 9 September 2011

 Activist appeals for a million-man march in Tahrir Square on Friday are ostensibly to protest the erratic decisions of the military junta now ruling Egypt. But in truth, the march will be a test of the popularity and influence of the activists themselves, and whether the “Soul of the Revolution” is still relevant in Egypt’s new dispensation. By SIMON ALLISON.

The Revolutionary Youth Coalition is a loose umbrella body of Egyptian activist groups, representatives of the young revolutionaries who were, as they described themselves, the “soul of the Revolution”. These are the people that organised the first mass protests, that put themselves in the frontlines, that camped out in Tahrir Square. Popular support coalesced in their wake.

But they’re finding themselves increasingly irrelevant in the post-Mubarak era, sinking in the political quicksand as the real battle is fought between the interim military government, seasoned political campaigners and Islamist groups. They’ve made little to no preparation for elections and their demands for more dramatic change are met with silence.

In a bid to revive their flagging support, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition is evoking the spirit of the revolution with another million-man march scheduled for Friday in Tahrir Square, with the goal of “correcting the path” of the military government. Their key demands include an end to military trials of civilians, a date for new elections, a new electoral law and minimum and maximum public sector wage laws.

Estimates of expected turnout vary wildly. Although Egypt’s influential football fan groups have announced their participation, the popular Muslim Brotherhood is boycotting the march. If the activists get their million men (and women) in Tahrir, expect the military administration to take notice and, perhaps, action on some of their demands. 

But a poorly attended march will fatally undermine the influence of the young revolutionaries, who are finding that merely overthrowing a government is quicker and easier than effecting real change. DM

Read more:

  • Egypt youth groups remobilise for new revolutionary offensive in Egypt’s Al Ahram;
  • Will Egypt’s activists boycott the election? in Foreign Policy.



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