Egypt. After 30 years of hard rule, and a few weeks of
increasingly powerful revolt, President Hosni Mubarak was
deposed on February 11. Inspired by the so-called Jasmine
Revolution in Tunisia, the Egyptian opposition gathered its
forces on January 25 at the Tahrir Square (Liberation
Square) in Cairo and demanded Mubarak's resignation, waived
the state of emergency and higher minimum wages.
Demonstrations were also held in Alexandria and other
cities. Police and supporters of Mubarak's National
Democratic Party NDP attacked the protesters by force, but
the military remained neutral. Later, it was reported that
850 activists and protesters were killed during those weeks.
Countryaah official site, the 83-year-old Mubarak responded by appointing a new
vice president, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, and a new
government under Air Force General Ahmed Shafik. On January
28, protesters set fire to the NDP headquarters in Cairo,
after which Mubarak promised on TV that neither he nor his
son Gamal Mubarak would be running for the next presidential
election. But the protests escalated, the police fired
sharply and NDP supporters attacked on camels. On February
11, Suleiman stated that a military council led by Field
Marshal Mohammad Hussein Tantawi had taken over the country.
Tantawi became acting president while Shafik was replaced by
former university professor Essam Sharaf in the post of
acting prime minister.
The Mubarak family were locked in their palace in the
tourist resort of Sharm ash-Shaykh and their assets were
frozen. Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa were indicted in
May for corruption and the president even for causing the
deaths of the 850 protesters. At the same time, his former
employees began to face trial. Former Interior Minister
Habib al-Adli was sentenced to twelve years in prison for
corruption and a couple of other ministers received
multi-year sentences for similar crimes. However, some of
them were convicted in their absence and at the same time
other former government members were freed.
The trial of Mubarak and his sons began August 3 at the
Cairo Police College. The defendants were held in a cage in
the courtroom, the president lying on a stretcher due to
heart problems. The defense promised to call 1,600
witnesses, which meant a lengthy trial. Tantawi testified
behind closed doors on September 24. The trial was not
concluded by New Year.
A group of lawyers appointed by the military council
presented proposals for constitutional changes in February,
including legal control of presidential and parliamentary
elections. In a referendum on March 19, 77.3% voted in favor
of the proposal. The support came mainly from former NDP
supporters and from large parts of the country's largest
opposition movement, the previously banned Muslim
Brotherhood (MB). Among those who considered the changes
insufficient were several progressive parties and more
liberal parts of MB.
Protesters began protesting in April that democratization
was slow. They accused the military council of failing to
respect freedom of expression and press and to want to cling
to power. In June and July, hundreds of people were injured
in new crowds and before the elections at the end of the
year, the Tahrir Square flared up in new manifestations that
were fought down with the same brutality as under Mubarak.
At least 50 protesters were then killed in Cairo, Alexandria
In the parliamentary elections, which began on November
28 and were to run in several rounds in January, a large
proportion of the country's mostly poor and low-educated
population voted for newly formed Islamist parties. MB's
party Freedom and justice became the biggest in the first
rounds, followed by the Conservative Salafist party al-Nur
(the "Light"). In third place came the Liberal coalition
Egyptian bloc. The support for the Islamists was explained
by the fact that for many years they had been engaged in
social work in the poor villages and residential areas for
which the Mubarak regime never engaged. Many observers were
worried because the Salafists advocated Islamic law, Sharia.
In connection with the election, Sharaf's expedition
minister resigned and the military council appointed a new
acting prime minister, Kamal Ganzouri.
Violence against the country's Coptic Christians
escalated. At least 25 people were killed and several
hundred injured in central Cairo on October 10 when military
attacked cops demonstrating against the government's
handling of an attack on a church. On March 8-9, 13 people
were killed and 140 injured when Islamists clashed with
demonstrative Copts in Cairo's suburbs and on May 7-8,
twelve people were killed in similar clashes in another
The upheavals hit the country's economy hard. The number
of tourists was estimated to decrease by one third compared
to the previous year and investments in industry and
agriculture were almost at a standstill.