The Egyptian Protests of 2011

The Egyptian Protests began on January 25, 2011 – a day now dubbed “The Day of Wrath” in Egypt. Today is February 4, 2011: “The Day of Decision”. President Mubarak has refused to step down from his position as president. He has been president of Egypt for nearly 30 years. During his “reign”, the rich got richer and the poor got much poorer. 40% of Egypt’s population lives below the poverty line. These Egyptian spend over 40% of their daily income on food alone.

I’m not trying to write some sob story about those “poor Egyptian people”. My point is that Mubarak sucked at being a good president. He rigged elections. He violated human rights and due process of law. He dominated and “dictated” the Egyptian people for three decades. Now, the question is whether the Egyptian people will put up with him for six more months or if they are justified in demanding he step down now.

Personally, I’m sick of the situation. Things like these make me sick of people. It saddened and frustrated me that “The Day of Wrath” actually made little difference. It wasn’t until the Egyptian police started firing live ammunition and tossing a couple hundred canisters of tear gas that the rest of the world took these demonstrations seriously. I mean, the protests in Iran came to nothing, why should Egypt be different? Violence makes the difference. Violence makes people pay attention. Images of government buildings burning to the ground and men standing in front of tanks is much more riveting.

Now, “pro-Mubarak” protesters (more than likely, they are Egyptian police and some of the 1,000 thugs that supposedly “escaped” from prison) are causing chaos. Those not involved in the protests (there are approximately 80 million Egyptians in Egypt and only a million or so of them are involved in the protests) can’t go to work, can’t go to the store – farmers are struggling to keep their farms going. These protests are killing the country much more quickly than Mubarak would have. Mubarak could have remained president until he died and it wouldn’t have done as much damage as the protesters have done in the last week and a half.

Now I’m guilty of exaggeration. Of course, I don’t know that Mubarak wouldn’t have done more damage had he remained unopposed. He could have sold Egypt to Israel or something…

Not really. I’ll give the man credit for one thing, he is proud of being Egyptian. He may have abused the Egyptian people and his love of self dominated his love of his country, but even as he loses everything, he is refusing to lose his country. I can’t give him any grudging admiration since he sunk his country down the drain, but I’ll admit that he loves Egypt. I wonder if he feels guilty for abusing it so much in the last three decades. I wonder if he had goals dreams back when he became president. Maybe he believed he was going to “save” Egypt and turn it around and create a great metropolis… Maybe he lost sight of that dream… I wonder if he regrets it now.

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I wish violence and corruption were not so intrinsic in our natures. Why is power enough to demolish dreams? Why is violence the ultimate manifestation of power?

Whoever said, “the pen is mightier than the sword” didn’t take into account that in the end, it has always been the sword that gets the last word.

February 17, 2011

Mubarak stepped down.  The protesters won.  Last Friday, the 11th, Mubarak resigned as the president of Egypt and handed the reigns to the Egyptian military council.  Egyptians then spent the rest of the night and the next three days celebrating.  Elections for the new president will be in September.  A Middle Eastern country successful ejected its dictator from his seat of power without igniting a civil war.  What has that meant?  An earthquake of protests that have ripped across Middle Eastern countries.

Jordan. Yemen.  Syria.  Bahrain.  Algeria.  Libya.  Iran (again).  Iraq.

There are so many.  What did Tunisia begin?  Did they know they would begin a movement of democratization?  Did they know they would mobilize the youthful generation to take action at a level no one ever imagined?

There are even protests in the US.  Thousands have gathered in Wisconsin to protest a labor bill.  Politicians are on their toes.

Where will this go?

When do the protests become invalid? foolish?  When will protesters begin to demand things that just are not possible?

And, as far as the Middle East is concerned, when will protesters stand against a dictator who won’t be bullied?  When will a dictator bent on retaining power even at the cost of international opinion and just mow over protesters.  Will it be in Iran where Ahmedinajad has had thousands of protesters and opposing politicians executed in the past?  Will it be in Bahrain?  Will it be in Iraq where our US soldiers are still withdrawing?

Americans tend to look on Iraq as our baby now.  Will we send in babysitters again?

It feels like the entire world is roiling in anger.  I see it in my head, a ball suspended in the night sky that is red rather than blue.  I feel change coming, like someone just wound a clock.

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