Egypt: One Year On

Egyptian uprising celebrates one-year anniversary

Stephen Beard Jan 25, 2012

Adriene Hill: It was a year ago today that massive protest began in Egypt — protests that toppled longtime ruler, Hosni Mubarak. To mark the anniversary, we’re going to spend the next week looking at Egypt’s economy: One Year On.

Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is just off Tahrir Square today. And he joins us now. Good morning, Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Good morning, Adriene.

Hill: So today marks the anniversary of the first major protest. What’s the scene there?

Beard: Well, I’m watching this from a hotel balcony, overlooking the square, Adriene. It’s a very impressive sight. There must be tens of thousands of people down in Tahrir square, waving flags, chanting slogans, and waving placards with pictures of scores of people who died in this revolution. This is a commemoration, as well as a celebration, and a protest.

Hill: And where does the revolution go from here?

Beard: Many people fear the revolution may yet be stolen. And they complain that although, Mubarak has been ousted, many of his cronies are still running the country, and for their own benefit.

Here’s a young man who’s taking part in today’s protest, Hamida Hegi.

Hamida Hegi:Corruption is like a pyramid. We only removed the head of it. The rest of the pyramid is still here, it’s very big. But in order to remove the corruption, we need to have a clear path to work on.

He says that he’s here today to make sure that the revolution improves the lives, not just of the small elite but of the broad mass of the Egyptian people.

Hill: And so are Egyptian people overall better off than they were a year ago?

Beard: No, they’re not. I mean, the revolution and the unrest have hit tourism and the economy slowed down quite dramatically. But you know, I have not met a single Egyptian since I arrived a week ago who said, you know, I wish we hadn’t had that revolution.

Earlier today, I met 31 year old Assama Mohammed, whose small clothing shop folded during this past year.

Beard: How do you feel about revolution, then? You must be unhappy about the revolution.

Assama Mohammed: I’m happy, I’m so happy. I’m ready to lose my life, for my country, for the revolution.

So still a lot of revolutionary fervor here, but Egypt’s got a very long way to go to fulfill the hopes of the revolution at unleashed, to improve the lives of ordinary Egyptians; 40 percent of the people in this country still live on only around $2 a day.

Hill: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard, in Cairo.

Beard: Okay, Adriene.

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