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Magnum Photographers
Featured Essays
January 23, 2013
by Moises Saman
The past two years in Egyptian politics have been something of a melodrama, whose story lines are peppered with violence and intrigue, set to a backdrop of urban Cairo. Curtains opened with the revolution’s early days and the toppling of Hosni Mubarak; then came the military-led transition, and an election that brought the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi to power. But the next act in this political spectacle may be the hardest yet to predict.

To the many Egyptians already wary of Islamist rule, President Morsi’s aggressive move to consolidate his power brought back memories of Mubarak’s old ways, this time with added religious dimensions to the leadership’s agenda. Indeed, the new president has fallen prey to the complexities of bringing Egypt out of decades of dictatorship and neglect, and continues to face a restless population clamoring for change.

As the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution approaches, Tahrir Square is again closed to traffic, paralyzed by demonstrations. The scenery hasn’t seemed to have changed much since January 25th 2010, as the revolution brought untold divisions to the surface, and gave weight to a ceaseless list of grievances that had long been dormant or ignored. But such is the way of a young democracy: it often succumbs to growing pains, the frustration that comes with reconciling its vision of what it wants to be with the reality that these things do take time. Nations evolve from that which they glean from cycles of triumph and despair, and it is up to Morsi to refrain from falling back on the tactics of his predecessor.