The 2011 Egyptian revolution took place following a popular uprising that began on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 and is still continuing as of October 2011. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance, which featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil disobedience, and labour strikes. Millions of protesters from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Despite being predominantly peaceful in nature, the revolution was not without violent clashes between security forces and protesters, with at least 846 people killed and 6,000 injured. The uprising took place in Cairo, Alexandria, and in other cities in Egypt, following the Tunisian revolution that saw the overthrow of the long-time Tunisian president. On 11 February, following weeks of determined popular protest and pressure, Mubarak resigned from office.
Grievances of Egyptian protesters were focused on legal and political issues including police brutality, state of emergency laws, lack of free elections and freedom of speech, uncontrollable corruption, and economic issues including high unemployment, food price inflation, and low minimum wages. The primary demands from protest organizers were the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime and the end of emergency law; freedom, justice, a responsive non-military government, and a say in the management of Egypt’s resources. Strikes by labour unions added to the pressure on government officials.
During the uprising the capital city of Cairo was described as “a war zone,” and the port city of Suez was the scene of frequent violent clashes. The government imposed a curfew that protesters defied and that the police and military did not enforce. The presence of Egypt’s Central Security Forces police, loyal to Mubarak, was gradually replaced by largely restrained military troops. In the absence of police, there was looting by gangs that opposition sources said were instigated by plainclothes police officers. In response, watch groups were organised by civilians to protect neighbourhoods.
International response to the protests was initially mixed, though most called for peaceful actions on both sides and moves toward reform. Most Western governments expressed concern about the situation. Many governments issued travel advisories and made attempts to evacuate their citizens from the country. The Egyptian Revolution, along with Tunisian events, has influenced demonstrations in other Arab countries including Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, and Libya.
Mubarak dissolved his government and appointed military figure and former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Omar Suleiman as Vice-President in an attempt to quell dissent. Mubarak asked aviation minister and former chief of Egypt’s Air Force, Ahmed Shafik, to form a new government. Mohamed ElBaradei became a major figure of the opposition, with all major opposition groups supporting his role as a negotiator for some form of transitional unity government. In response to mounting pressure, Mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in September.
On 11 February Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak would be stepping down as president and turning power over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. On 24 May, Mubarak was ordered to stand trial on charges of premeditated murder of peaceful protestors and, if convicted, could face the death penalty.
The military junta, headed by effective head of state Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, announced on 13 February that the constitution would be suspended, both houses of parliament dissolved, and that the military would rule for six months until elections could be held. The prior cabinet, including Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, would continue to serve as a caretaker government until a new one is formed. Shafik resigned on 3 March, a day before major protests to get him to step down were planned; he was replaced by Essam Sharaf, the former transport minister. Although Mubarak resigned, the protests have continued amid concerns about how long the military junta will last in Egypt; some are afraid that the military will rule the country indefinitely.