In the November/December issue of Boston Review, political science professor Mona El-Ghobashy writes about the history of Egypt's labor, professional and popular protests leading to the momentous uprising that started in January. An excerpt:
"Egypt’s was no cartoon dictatorship that indiscriminately banned protests. For at least a decade before Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptians were doing their politics outdoors. Citizens assembled daily on highways, in factory courtyards, and in public squares to rally against their unrepresentative government. Mubarak’s regime responded with a million-man police force that alternately cajoled and crushed the demonstrators. The goal was not to ban protests, but to obstruct any attempt to unify different groups and prevent sympathetic bystanders joining them.
Egypt’s uprising happened when three distinct currents of protest—labor, professional, and popular—finally converged. That convergence transformed a routine political demonstration calling for reforms into a nationwide cry for regime change. Together, the protesters defeated a formidable police force and brought down a tenacious president. Now they are shaping the politics of post-revolutionary Egypt, resisting the military rulers’ efforts to take them off the streets."
Prof. El-Ghobashy is assistant professor of political science. Born and raised in Cairo, her work focuses on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, with an emphasis on social movements and democratization.