In this penultimate video, I ask Denis to give us one key takeaway from his book which will help Westerners understand Egyptian politics. His answer is one of my personal favourites of this entire series.
‘The people had had enough,’ Denis says. Every people has a breaking point, and the Egyptians were no different. On the fourth day of the Revolution, the people rebelled after Mubarak’s police fired their water cannons on the prostrate, praying Muslims. This was a real turning point.
An extract from Breathing Hope and Fear
The Egyptian Revolution of January-February 2011 was the result of a perfect storm of corruption, privileged nepotism, revolution in nearby Tunisia, people tiring of iron-fisted emergency rule, youth unrest at their own financial hardship and a seething anger at Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Since the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, Egypt lived under permanent “emergency” law.
Both Anwar Sadat and Hosni al Mubarak were military men as were their predecessors Gamal Abdel Nasser and Mohammed Naguib. The military overthrew the monarchy in 1952 and 2011 marked 59-years of unbroken military control of 80 million people. Mubarak’s nine-year long efforts to have his son Gamal succeed him as President struggled. He was now 80 and wanted to retire but the economy of Egypt was in free-fall. The military was solidly aligned against Gamal, a non-military leader bent on economic and free market reforms. That policy change would not set well with a military controlling 40% of Egypt’s businesses.
Youth unrest already led to draconian police control under the Interior Ministry of Mahmoud Wagdy. There was also a highly feared cadre of secret police under the control of Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. Together they terrorised most opposition groups and individuals into submission. Indeed, after the Revolution demonstrators broke into and took control of the State Security building, Amn Dawla, discovering 6-subterranean levels of interrogation cells.
A complacent and powerful military coupled with a brutal police force and an unhappy, poor youth movement comprising 60% of the population, were an explosive mix of ingredients. Revolution in neighbouring Tunisia and the overthrow of their military leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was the ignition fuse.Buy Denis’ book in ebook and print formats from your preferred retailer: https://geni.us/breathing
Egyptian Revolution 10th Anniversary Series with Denis G. Campbell
In this tenth-anniversary video series, I sit down with Denis G. Campbell, author of Breathing Hope and Fear: Egypt Since 2011, to discuss what led up to the 25 January Revolution, what the key moments were during it, why it failed, and the learnings we can take from it. I also ask him directly about his book: why write about Egypt, and why use the innovative tweet-based style he did? Posting every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday until the 26th – and, of course, on 25 January itself – I attach a relevant excerpt from Breathing Hope and Fear.
- What Caused the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
- Why Did the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 Ultimately Fail?
- Why Write About Egypt?
- Why Did You Structure Your Book Like This?
- What Has Changed in Egypt Since 2018?
- What Has Changed in Egypt Since 2011?
- What Is the Most Memorable Moment of the 2011 Revolution?
- How Did You Come to Be Personally Involved in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011?
- Do You Have Any Other Works?
- One Key Takeaway for Westerners
- Could Another Egyptian Revolution Happen Soon?
About the author
Denis has provided Americas, Middle East and business commentary to global television networks (BBC, ITV, Al Jazeera, CNN, MSNBC), radio (BBC, China International Radio) and various magazines and newspapers for the last 14 years. An American/British journalist and author, he is based in Wales. Denis was significantly involved in covering the 25 January Egyptian Revolution at the time.