Four years ago today, violent demonstrations started in Cairo sparking the ‘Arab Spring’ which was to hit the rest of the region. The protest was the first coordinated demonstration in Egypt and was against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and most significantly the thirty year rule of President Mubarak. Egyptians were inspired by the success of the protests in Tunisia, as the president - Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali – was forced to flee the country.
The demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Cairo (and other cities in Egypt) were at first just peaceful protests until the police and demonstrators clashed and led to violence. Over the many days of protest, there were thousands of casualties and many arrests. The government blocked internet access and mobile phone communication in an attempt to stop the demonstrations, which were organised on social media. But they continued nonetheless. On the 29th January, Mubarak appointed a new cabinet hoping to appease the demonstrators, but did not step down. It was not until 11th February after 18 days of demonstrations that he resigned as president, causing widespread celebrations across Egypt. The military were now in charge.
An election was held between 28th November 2011 and 11th January 2012, but fraud was suspected and the results were discarded. Egyptians finally got the democratic presidential election which they had been fighting for in a two round election process in May and June 2012. Mohammed Morsi was the winner of these elections and stayed as president until July 2013 when he was overthrown by another uprising. The military were put in charge once again and remain in this position today.
As part of the ‘Arab Spring’ there was also unrest in Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iran, Morocco, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Syria.
Today, Egyptians commemorating the 2011 uprising are protesting in Tahrir Square and 11 people have been killed so far.
This timeline from The Guardian gives an interesting overview of the Arab Spring.