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The Tragedy of the Egyptian Revolution

  • 707 International Affairs Building, Columbia University (map)

Khaled Fahmy, Arcapita Visiting Professor,
American University in Cairo

“Bread. Freedom. Social Justice. Human dignity”. This was the slogan that erupted in Tahrir Square in January 2011 in what proved to be one of the largest episodes of the Arab Spring. More than four years later, none of the lofty ideals that this slogan had called for has been fulfilled. On the contrary, the human rights situation in Egypt is worse today than it has ever been in living memory. More Egyptians have been killed by security forces in the past year than during Mubarak's thirty years in power. Courts have been passing down death sentences by the hundreds in sessions that last no more than a few minutes. Hundreds of young activists are now behind bars. Many more have fled the country in self-imposed exiles.

What caused this dramatic setback? How did the Arab Spring end up being a nightmare out of which Egypt, the largest Arab country, finds itself unable to awaken? Was the failure of the January 25 Revolution the result of the shortcomings of Tahrir's young activists? Were Egypt's democratic revolutionaries truly democratic or did they fail the first test of democracy when they got a chance? Or is the rapid unraveling of the Arab state system the reason behind the counter-revolution's spectacular success?

Informed by many years of studying Egypt's modern history and reflecting on his own personal experience in Tahrir, Khaled Fahmy will be lecturing about the Tragedy of Egypt's Revolution.

Sponsored by the Middle East Institute and Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL).