Well, it’s all kicking off in the Middle East isn’t it? It seems the turmoil in Tunisia has inspired protests against anti-authoritarian governments all over the region. There have been public protests in Cairo, Alexandria and other spots in Egypt, and also reports of similar in Lebanon.
Jack Schenker wrote in the Guardian:
Central Cairo was the scene of violent clashes tonight, as the biggest anti-government demonstrations in a generation swept across Egypt, bringing tens of thousands onto the streets.
Shouting “down with the regime” and “Mubarak, your plane is waiting,” protesters demanded the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship and said they were fighting back against decades of poverty, oppression and police torture. The protests had been declared illegal by the authorities and were met with a fierce police response, as tear gas and water cannon were fired into the crowd and rocks were hurled into the air by both demonstrators and security forces.
“We have never seen anything like this before – it is the first day of the Egyptian revolution,” said Karim Rizk, one of those who joined multiple rallies in the capital. Apparently taken by surprise at the size of protests, police initially stood back and allowed demonstrators to occupy public squares and march through the streets, an unprecedented move in a country where political gatherings are strictly outlawed and demonstrations are normally quickly shut down by security forces. “We have taken back our streets today from the regime and they won’t recover from the blow,” claimed Rizk.
Today’s protests were called by a coalition of online activists, who had declared 25 January a “day of revolt” against the ruling elite and encouraged Egyptians to follow in the footsteps of Tunisia, where mass demonstrations forced President Ben Ali to flee earlier this month. As evening fell thousands of protesters from separate demonstrations converged on Tahrir Square, Cairo’s central plaza, and begun an occupation that continued into the night. Demonstrators waved Egyptian and Tunisian flags, hauled down a billboard for the ruling NDP party and chanted “depart Mubarak” at the 82-year-old leader, who will face presidential elections later this year.
I hope the right thing happens. Of course, what I call “the right thing” may not be the same as what you think is “right”. What do you think?
PS: “The revolution will be online” ~some wise geezer somewhere.
PPS: The lovely Guardian newspaper has provided a little compendium of quotes, by the “great” and the “small”, concerning Egypt, its government and people. A couple of examples:
“We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence. Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” ~Hilary Clinton, praising Egyptian president Mubarak (who has been in power for 30 years! – no true democracy would put up with a government like that for so long).
“In my book, if you get a tenth of the 80,000 people or so who support the initiative online, it will be a success.” ~Issandr el Amrani, blogging on Arabist.net. I saw on the BBC that the Egyptian government estimates the numbers of demonstrators as about 15,000 – nearly twice the number Issandr reckons will ensure success.
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