On February 11, former President of Egypt, Mubarak, stepped down, ceding to a nearly three-week citizen protest of the country’s government.
The protests started peacefully on January 25, 2011, and were spurred by rampant unemployment, lack of government transparency and the belief that Mubarak was preparing for yet another term in his nearly 30-year reign over Egypt.
According to Professor Fred Lawson of the Government department, the culmination of the protests in Egypt was led by workers, students and intellectuals who had been organizing for five to six years. Many were critical of the government for raising prices to the point that the cost of living was too expensive for the general populace and for crowding out other candidates in Egypt’s elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood were also pivotal in beginning the widespread distaste for Mubarak across Egypt.
The religious group was the pioneering critic of the Mubarak regime at a time when it was dangerous to do so.
Some have been concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in politics, but Professor Martha Johnson of the Government department at Mills said that the United States should not be overly concerned with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
“Religion and politics intertwine because political organizing was prohibited for so long, and religion became a sphere in which people could organize,” she said. “Naturally, political organizing took place in the only place that people could meet without harassment.”
The Muslim Brotherhood plans to create a political party once a new democracy is established in Egypt.
Now that Mubarak has stepped down but the question remains as to where the struggle will lead.
“The movement can go only so far without leadership” Johnson said. “Because of years of political repression, Egypt lacks strong opposition parties to step up and participate in building a new democracy.”
The Egyptian army has gathered a diverse panel of jurists to revise the country’s constitution. The panel includes a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sobhi Saleh, which has furthered the religious group’s political legitimacy in Egypt. Until this panel comes to a consensus, the Egyptian military will be in charge of the country.