Middle East

Media ambivalent on Egypt uprising anniversary

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Cairo
Image caption Demonstrators marked the anniversary in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Print and broadcast media in Egypt and the Middle East have adopted a celebratory tone on the first anniversary of the uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak, but many have also cautioned that the "revolution" is unfinished.

Some European commentators have drawn attention to the fact that since the start of the uprising, Islamists have come to prominence on the political scene, with one warning that "the revolution has devoured its children".


Egyptian state-run and privately-owned TV stations devoted their entire morning coverage to the first anniversary of the 25 January revolution. Their reports reflected divisions between people who "converged on the squares to celebrate the day" and those who "converged on the same squares to mourn the martyrs and call for retribution for their killers".

The general tone on state-run Channel 1 TV and Nile News TV reflected an atmosphere of festivities and both broadcast songs linked to the revolution. But young people interviewed by the channels warned that the revolution's objectives had not yet been achieved so they could not celebrate it.

Editorials and headlines also reflected the twin sentiments of celebration and concern for the future.

An editorial published by the Al-Ahram daily called the anniversary "a historic day in Egypt's ancient and modern age, to be added to its other memorable days which witnessed great changes impacting its march towards democracy". "On this day, we remember the martyrs who died so that we can all live to witness this glorious day," it said.

Writing in Al-Akhbar, Muhammad Barakat called on people to "celebrate the passing of one year since the revolution and what has already been achieved", but also to "renew the commitment and pledges to continue the revolution until all its noble goals, namely freedom, dignity, democracy and social justice, have been achieved".

The Al-Dustur newspaper led with the headline: "Today Egypt resumes its revolution without violence or sabotage."

Al-Akhbar published a special supplement with a big photo showing protesters carrying Egyptian flags and headlines reading "The first year of the revolution" and "Lift your head up high; you are Egyptian".

Middle East

"These are great achievements," exclaimed pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, noting that the ruling military council in Egypt had also partially lifted the state of emergency that has been in place for most of the past 45 years.

Acknowledging that there were still problems with democracy in Egypt, the paper nevertheless said that it was "natural for mistakes to occur and for a democratic process to be confronted by some negative aspects".

Israeli broadsheet Ha'aretz agreed. "Egyptians should be congratulated for their success in bringing the revolution about and overthrowing a regime that oppressed them; and for establishing a new representative parliament in a relatively short period of time," an editorial said.

"It is as if [Egypt] is looking to become a different country," said an editorial in Saudi newspaper Al-Watan.

On a more downbeat note, Talal Sulayman, writing in Lebanon's Al-Safir, saw no reason to feel joy. "The time of worries, concerns and facing huge responsibilities has come and the most serious challenge is: Where do we go from here?" he asked.


A leading article by Jacques Schuster published on the website of Germany's Die Welt said: "The revolution has devoured its children: a year after protests started on Tahrir Square, the Muslim Brotherhood is setting the tone in Egypt." "They do not want freedom or democracy but Sharia," he warned.

French daily Le Monde felt that it was "unjust" that "the liberals and the Left" were in the minority in the new Egyptian parliament, because "they are the ones who started this revolution... they have paid the highest price". "The Islamists, for their part, jumped on the bandwagon," it went on, but "the victory of the Islamists is not illegitimate for all that".

The paper was, however, upbeat on Egypt's democratic future, arguing that women in particular would "not forgive any authoritarian, political or social excesses".

A commentary by Andrei Murtazin published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti was more sceptical.

"Power in Egypt did not go to the protesters but was taken by the military junta consisting of Mubarak's stooges, led by his former defence minister. In effect, power in Egypt has not yet changed hands," Murtazin said, while admitting that "the process of democratisation has definitely started".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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