Some years from now my children or your children will read about the current crisis in the Arab world in their history textbooks. Thats the kind of history thats currently unraveling in Egypt while i am putting this down. Heres a quick go through on whats the issue in Egypt.
What’s the Egypt issue about??
The main issue is about freedom. Freedom from an autocratic government. Freedom from Hosni Mubarak who has been ruling upon the country for the last 29 years. The rule of law in Egypt is such that no one can run against the president in the elections. The so called Emergency Law Rule. Acute poverty, unemployment and high level of corruption is what the people want to get rid of. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks Egypt 138 in its Democracy Index.
Living standards is very low and uneven creating a divide between the people (Almost 30% of the population live below the poverty line) and the emergence of the “affluent class” who control most of the country’s wealth. The affluent class includes military generals and the ruling generals. According to Nationsencyclopedia, the wealthiest 20 percent of Egyptians controls 39 percent of the country’s wealth, while the poorest 20 percent controls only 9.8 percent of wealth.
How did the protests start??
Never in their wildest dreams did the Arab rulers think that people will come out on the streets against them. The flare up started in Tunisia, Read : A slap that triggered a revoution, and spread its fangs in Egypt. Anti-Mubarak protesters came out in huge numbers on to the streets demanding the dilution of the present government. They also want Mubarak out of the country, like Ben Ali of Tunisia who fled the country once he realized that things have got out of hand. Theres an Interpol ‘wanted’ notice for Ben Ali.
The Egyptian government quickly shut down the backbone of communications in Egypt. The internet. Almost 88% of the net services were down including telephone services. Egypt is the number one user of Facebook among the Arab countries and most of the co-ordination for the protests was done using FB.
Who is behind the protests??
The protests is said to be driven by the April 6 Youth Movement, a group on facebook consisting of young and educated people opposed to Mubarak.
A ‘million man’ march was called out in Cairos Tahrir square upping the strength for the ouster of Mubarak. However the nine day peaceful protests took an ugly turn yesterday when supporters of Mubarak came out of nowhere and clashed with the peaceful protesters yesterday. People mounted on camels and horses, with sticks and whips in their hands suddenly began attacking the millions of people gathered at the square.
Some have termed it as a carefully planned attack by Mubarak to gain control of the streets. “Government approved mass lynching of people” , was the term used in twitter.
Are other Arab countries afraid??
Yes. Many Arab countries have many things in common. Dictatorship/Autocratic government, poverty, unemployment and curbed freedom.
As Shashi Tharoor says: The biggest failures of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine Al Abidin Ben Ali in Tunisia may not have been their repressive politics but their failed economics. If young men hadn’t been unemployed and struggling to make ends meet, feed themselves and have the self-respect to offer a home to the young women they desired, they would not be calling for the overthrow of their government.
pic courtesy: CNN