Daily Video

February 12, 2021

Classroom Resource: Ten years after the Arab Spring, democracy remains elusive in Egypt


Directions: Watch the short video clip, read the summary below and then answer the discussion questions. To read a transcript of the video, click here

Summary: In 2011, longtime Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed. The Egyptian revolution was the high point of what became known as the Arab Spring, a movement that spread across the Middle East bringing with it the possibility of democracy. But for many Egyptians and much of the region, the intervening decade has not been kind.

  • Hosni Mubarak was president of Egypt for 30 years, from 1981 to 2011, when he was deposed in what was known as the “Arab Spring” push against dictatorial governments. His rule was known for stifling dissent and democratic reforms.
  • After Mubarak was deposed, Egypt elected Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammed Morsi. But he was deposed in a coup by the Egyptian military in 2013.
  • The leader of that coup, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has controlled Egypt since then. El-Sisi arrested and massacred Muslim Brotherhood supporters and has oppressed any political opposition since the coup.
  • In 2011, then Vice President Joe Biden offered public support for Hosni Mubarak, even as the Obama administration offered support for the “Arab Spring” more generally. It is unclear whether Biden’s administration will support, challenge or try to ignore El-Sisi’s control of Egypt.


Warm up questions: 

  1. Who was Hosni Mubarak?
  2. What was the “Arab Spring”?
  3. Why did democratic reforms fail in Egypt?
  4. When and Where did the Arab Spring begin, and when and where was there a resurgence?
  5. How has the United States supported the Arab Spring?

Focus questions:

  1. Do you think it’s important for the United States to push for democratic reforms in countries around the world? Why or why not? If so, what do you think is the best way for the United States to promote democracy?
  2. What do you think are the advantages for everyday citizens living in a democracy?

Media literacy: What extra background about Egypt would you like to have to better understand what’s happening in that country?

Dig Deeper: Have students compare contemporary threats to democracy around the world.

  • First, use the resource above to explore the Arab Spring and democratic movements in Egypt.
  • This resource explores political repression and protest in Russia.
  • Then use this resource to explore the current military coup in Myanmar after years of  push toward democratic reform.
  • Finally, use this resource to discuss the Capitol insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Ask your students:

  • What protections does the United States have to prevent a military coup or a totalitarian regime from taking over? How could you find out if you’re not sure?
  • What are some threats to those protections for democracy in the United States?

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