Egypt Continues to Face Tunisia like Protests
Egyptian authorities are expecting further protests following two days of unrest that left at least four people dead. The government declared protests were illegal and began crackdown arresting more than 1000 people. The protesters are still on the streets on Wednesday night, BBC News reported. Though the protesters appear minority of the population at present, more people are likely to join them in coming days.
The government is not in a position to provide any answer to the protesting masses. The only response from the government so far is cracking down on demonstrators and raising security. The opposition leader who had been the head of IAEA till recently is supporting the protests and announced he was going to join protests soon. He said that many Egyptians would no longer tolerate Mr Mubarak’s government even for a transitional period, adding that the suggestion that authoritarian Arab leaders like him were the only bulwark against Islamic extremism was "obviously bogus". He suggested Egypt needs a modern and moderate government.
The unrest began on Tuesday in what anti-government activists called a "day of revolt", inspired by the uprising in Tunisia which ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. On Wednesday, they staged fresh demonstrations in central Cairo, despite official warnings that anyone taking to the streets would be prosecuted.
Protesters burned tyres and threw stones at police and there were scuffles outside the journalists’ union building, where hundreds had gathered. Police fired tear gas and beat protestors with batons killing five protesters. One policeman was reportedly killed in the scuffle. Many people were injured.
BBC reported, “Protesters set fire to parts of a government building in the city of Suez and attacked the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party. The protests in Cairo continued late into the early hours of Thursday morning – small groups were reported to be breaking off from the main demonstrations, throwing stones at police who responded with tear gas. About 700 people have been arrested across the country as the authorities have sought to rein in the unrest.” The Associated Press reported at least eight journalists were detained.
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Egypt to "respond to the legitimate needs" of the people. She said it was facing "an important opportunity to implement political, economic and social reforms that respond to legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people". Egypt is a key political and military ally of the US in the Middle East. Washington has been reliant on Mr Mubarak’s autocratic regime for decades, but the unrest could now mean the US has to tread very carefully as it seeks to influence events in the region.
The country’s stock exchange recorded a sharp drop even though the trading was suspended for some time to prevent free fall.
The protesters are demanding the right to life, liberty and dignity. They are resenting widespread corruption, oppression, unemployment and absence of freedom. They are calling on Egyptians to take part in protests in force in order to make a long lasting impact. Social network websites like Facebook and Twitter became important tools in organizing protests. The government is trying to block those sites from spreading protest news. It remains to be seen whether Egypt is bracing for Tunisia like developments.