A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 23 Plus 59 Years

It is already past midnight in Egypt and the country's traditional National Day, July 23. This year the bank holiday will be the 24th, but the Army and other institutions will mark the 59th anniversary of the 1952 coup.

A lot of the younger revolutionaries have already expressed their intent to switch the National Day to January 25, when the uprising began, seeing it as more of a Revolution than the military coup 59 years ago, before they were born. It is probably worth remembering, though, that the coup looked revolutionary enough at first, before the enthusiasm of the first moment became calcified into the authoritarian dictatorship that endured so long. And obviously, the January 25 revolution is at best incomplete, and at worst could produce another long period of undemocratic rule.

On earlier July 23rds since I began this blog, I have reflected on the legacy of the Free Officers (in 2009), and of Muhammad Naguib (last year); and on the 40th anniversary of Nasser's death I reflected on the very mixed legacies of the man.

This year, though, I think Egyptians should be looking forward, recognizing how easily the initial enthusiasms of that "revolution" were twisted into a dictatorship, and hoping for better results this time.

Perhaps next year, National Day will be on January 25. Or, perhaps it won't. The story is still unfinished.

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