January 25 marks the second anniversary of the uprising in Egypt. Ibrahim Kenderian has been part of the movement since the very start and reports of violence, continued shortcomings and his expectations.
Tahrir Square is blocked: barbed wire and sandbags on the roads are supposed to prevent attacks. On the once green square, protestors have again set up white tents. On the revolution's second anniversary, the spot is still the center of protests against the country's leadership. Today, though, this anger that swept Hosni Mubarak from power is aimed at the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Twenty-six year-old Ibrahim Kenderian was living in Alexandria on the "Day of Rage" as January 25, 2011 was termed. From that day on, the protests spread across the entire country. Ibrahim was drawn to the capital Cairo. On January 28, he was part of a growing protest march heading toward Tahrir Square. Along the way, violence erupted and resulted in one of the most bloody street battles of the revolution.
"They used everything, like rubber bullets, tear gas or buckshot," Ibrahim said. "And then they drove into the crowds with their cars."
One of the police vehicles drove over two young people right before his eyes. But the demonstrators saw that their numbers swelled and didn't give up until they had reached Tahrir Square. Many of them paid for their courage on this historic day with their lives.
Recurring violence by authorities
Mubarak's ouster did not end the government's violence against the Egyptians fighting for freedom and social justice. Violence runs through the past two years like a common thread to this day. Ibrahim also suffered from this bitter experience. About a year ago, he was arrested during a street battle. The police brutally beat him and criminals cooperating with the police stole his valuables. In the end, he was tortured for hours.
"They pulled our arms out and beat us nonstop," he said. "In the end, I didn't realize how I was getting beaten anymore. Some people came and they said to us: you're going to be tortured again - and maybe you're going to be killed."
Like many Egyptians, Ibrahim is disappointed by the developments over the past two years. Although Mubarak was overthrown, the military pushed out of day-to-day politics and elections held, the Islamists are in power now. They are restricting civil liberties, have divided the country deeply with the new constitution, but have hardly made any progress in reducing poverty. There is currently no hope for economic recovery. Ibrahim has nothing good to say about President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"They're changing nothing, they can't do anything and they don't listen to anyone," he said. "And the people are dying - they just want to eat and live."
Social system in a sordid state
Just a few meters from the street where he was arrested a year ago, Ibrahim recounts a gas explosion which killed most of his building concierge's family. Returning from the hospital, he said what he saw there truly depressed him. There were no pillows, hardly any doctors, no food and it was very filthy. Hundreds of patients there had no care.
"You have a minister of health. What is he doing?," Ibrahim said. "A lady I talked to there said, 'here it's good, there are other places which are even worse.' I said you have no doctors, you have no food, you have nothing. What's happening in the other places? I can't even imagine that this is Egypt."
But ironically, it is the absence of progress in Egyptians' daily lives which also gives Ibrahim some hope. Many people have realized that the Muslim Brotherhood were not the promised saviors and were not in the position to change the situation quickly, he said.
"What is good is that they are derailing themselves with all of their mistakes - like Mubarak did," Ibrahim said. "So this is what is positive. I think that now is the time to find a leader for this revolution."
The beginning of new protests?
But here, too, little has changed in the past two years. The opposition rarely agrees on a position. It is only unanimous in its rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood, which it considers dangerous and incompetent. Ibrahim is also disappointed by the prominent opposition leaders such as Mohammed ElBaradei or Hamdeen Sabahi. ElBaradei in particular had once enjoyed full support by the revolutionary generation. But he never took the initiative or had a true vision for Egypt.
Ibrahim views the second anniversary of the revolution mainly as a starting point for a new wave of protests. A growing number of Egyptians, rich as well as poor, are extremely dissatisfied with the Muslim Brotherhood's rule.
"It's so dangerous what's happening now - it's like a nuclear bomb," he said. "And this nuclear bomb will come up on January 25, and on January 26, 27, 28 there will be a lot of violence and it will last until the end of the Muslim Brothers."
It is by no means certain what will happen on this anniversary. Many Egyptians yearn for calm and stability and don't want any further unrest. But the pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood to improve the people's everyday lives has increased enormously.
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