Death of a Fruit Salesman
When Mohamed Bouazizi committed self-immolation last year in Tunisia, the world could not have expected or predicted that the solitary act of martyrdom would have the far-reaching effects that it did. The death of a fruit salesman triggered what has become widely known as the Arab Spring; in turn, the Arab Spring has triggered a wave of hope and rebirth in the Arab world, such as has not been seen in decades.
Though Tunisia was the point of origin for the recent revolutions in the Arab world, Egypt has made herself the focal point. In January, millions of Egyptians filled Tahrir Square and other public gathering places in Alexandria and Cairo in a massive, unprecedented public display of anger at the government. Using new means of technology for ease of communication- Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, Facebook- they called for then-president, Mubarak, to step down. Their efforts came to a head on February 11, 2011, when Mubarak relinquished his leadership.
When Mubarak stepped down the State of Egypt enlisted an interim military government that became known as SCAF- Supreme Council for the Armed Forces- until such time that free and fair elections could be held and taken effect. Today those elections are in full swing in Egypt, with tens of thousands of voters taking to the polls to voice their opinion and hopefully have a say in their future. Voting is staggered, based on location of principality. Cairo, Alexandria, and seven other provinces open polls on the twenty-eighth, while the remaining polls open on December fourteenth and January third. These votes determine the lower house of Parliament, the People’s Assembly. Upper parliamentary- also known as the Shura Council- votes are scheduled for January, while the government promises to transfer power to an elected candidate no later than June of 2012.
Nothing is as it Seems
Despite the hope and the scheduled votes, there remain many problems and threats to the new regime. The SCAF have recently angered many Egyptians, prompting more protests and further occupation of Tahrir Square. The SCAF have responded in kind, releasing tear gas and arresting protestors. Even as protestors are denouncing actions taken by the interim government, it has implied that perhaps as much power as was promised the new government will not be given. Egypt has been a nucleus of change in the Arab world for months now, and that change is finally coming to a tangible head. And yet, this change might still escape Egypt, as it has done for decades previously. And though the Egyptian civilians are trying with all their willpower to prevent this escape, they are now realizing that it might still slip out of their grasp.