JUST before 2012 closed its accounts in Egypt, another roar was recorded in the continuing saga of the country’s liberation movement. Having barely celebrated the post-dictatorship freedom, the free Egyptians entered the New Year with a new death count of 40 people who were killed in clashes a few months ago at a sit-in to honour the freedom martyrs. These riots had set the pace for 2012, marking the second uprising at Tahrir Square.
The year continued with protests waged either by the liberal faction who would protest on the interim government’s delay at announcing elections, or by the Islamist parties who would create an uproar by coercing lawmakers to dominate the new panel of the Constitutional Assembly.
In between these disturbances, the Presidential elections were held and by foul or fair means Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected Egypt’s President – not a happy outcome for the liberals. With the assumption of power by Morsi – following a very narrow win – the liberals felt their core issues of women and minority rights were under threat once again.
Matters went from bad to worse when protesters streamed on to the historical concrete of Tahrir Square yet again; this time to dispute the elected President’s high-handed attempt of passing Egypt’s new constitution – which validates his broad powers – by putting it to a referendum in December.
Blood again flowed freely as the Islamist and secular parties clashed with bare hands, rocks as well as Molotov cocktails in front of the Presidential Palace. President Morsi was publicly blamed for this riot and three of his senior advisors resigned in protest.
Despite the dissent, the constitution was voted in and it gives the Egyptian president extensive powers and undermines the rights for women and minorities besides giving the President control over the Judiciary. That was the last cruel cut for liberal Egyptians who will welcome another New Year fighting for freedom.
The protests, the physical sacrifice of countless Egyptians and the tussle for free expression seems to have no immediate end.
Tahrir Square remains a bloody protest site for the second year going while the country’s transition to democracy remains threatened.