A look at Egypt a month after the revolution 

Though American media and their citizenry pored over reports of the Egyptian revolution's violent phase, the largest nation in the Arab world is getting little attention now. The intersection of a media that is constantly looking for the next big thing and Americans' short attention span, and massive events unfolding elsewhere means that Egypt has been largely forgotten here in the U.S.

But in Egypt, the story continues, as the country has struggled to put itself back together in the month following former President Hosni Mubarak's resignation announcement.

In many ways, everyday life in Egypt is back to normal. Vendors have opened their shops back up in the souq, the traditional Arab market, and while the military still maintains a presence on the street with scattered troops and tanks, Egyptians are back to the business of living life.

There are some important and exciting opportunities that are coming down the pipes for the Egyptian people, most notably a vote on a new constitution set for this upcoming Saturday. The government has been in the stewardship of the military, and this vote would be an important step towards restoring a civilian government.

Some critics  -- among them Presidential candidate Mohamed al Baradei -- argue that the vote is rushed, and that members of the former ruling party under Mubarak have an unfair advantage.  Al Baradei recently tweeted, “Why rush @ the expense of democracy?” But at the very least, people seem excited about the opportunity to engage in the first true democratic election in most of their lives.

There are also troubles that the revolution brought and that the Egyptian people still need to fix. The Egyptian Stock Exchange, one of the oldest in the region dating back to 1883, remains closed. The last two days that the EGX was open, January 26-27, losses amounted to approximately $12 billion and many investors remain worried about the exchange's future even if it does open back up soon.

With Mubarak's security forces no longer patrolling the streets, groups both internal and external have looked to take advantage of the situation.

Internally, old religious hatreds have started raising their ugly heads. There was an incident of a church burning in Sol with two Christians killed, allegedly by a group of Muslims. The situation has since calmed down, but in the midst of the relative confusion, old internal feuds tend to come out of hiding and events like this are not uncommon immediately following revolutions.

Externally, Iran has worked the situation to their own advantage. Ynet news reports that Iran is exploiting the temporary lack of border security by moving weapons and terrorists to the sparsely populated Sinai peninsula, which borders Israel. This comes at the same time that Egypt is working on returning economic relations with Israel by repairing a major gas pipeline into the country. Egypt is responsible for roughly 40 percent of the gas that Israel receives.

All in all, Egypt is a picture of hopeful optimism mixed with the stark reality of trying to start a new government from scratch in an unstable region. They're experiencing the growing pains that any nation in their situation would experience.

With an upcoming vote on a constitution, and the transitioning from a military junta to a civilian government, it's still too early to tell how Egypt will turn out. But by all reports, the citizens remain hopeful for the chance to have a representative government, and are actively looking for ways to improve their nation.

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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