Thursday, January 27, 2011

Friday: Possible D-Day for Egypt and Mubarak

Tomorrow is predicted to be a sort of D-Day for Egypt. Protesters are expected to come out in record numbers, even putting Tuesday’s show to shame.

Demonstrations have spread and yet, there’s still no word from President Hosni Mubarak or anyone in the Mubarak family. Although there are a lot of words from Egyptians, but what does it mean?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not going to win any points with this blog – at least not Egyptian points.  However, this is something that isn’t on CNN, BBC, the New York Times, etc. What are Egyptians really protesting? Do they even know?

They say they want term limits. Understandable since transparency in the Mubarak regime is absent and although elections have been held, please revert to my previous post on those so-called elections (Letters from Egypt: Don't Forget to Vote).

They say they want to combat corruption. I get it, but please look at the very end of yesterday’s blog. Those exact people wanting to stop corruption have also become part of the problem (Day 2 of Egyptian Protests). You can’t change a country without changing the people first.

They say they want a better quality of life. Who doesn’t? However, did the average protester think, “What next?” I have a very well educated and connected Egyptian friend who told me many months ago that he was going to get registered to vote and he didn’t care who else was on the ballot, he would still vote for the opposition just for change. The problem is that Egypt doesn’t have a viable option. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

You can’t imagine how the average Egyptian lives and it’s sad. There’s no reason for this country to be classified as third world, but yet amid all its natural resources and abundant financial aid (mainly from the US), the average Egyptian lives below the poverty level. An Egyptian friend called me yesterday and said how hurt she was that the BBC said Tunisians were more educated than Egyptians. I explained to the friend that it wasn’t the BBC that came up with that conclusion – it’s a fact.

I’ve lived here going on three years and I’ve admitted all throughout this blog how special a place Egypt is to me despite many frustrations. In addition, I’m all for people having a voice and it’s about time that Egyptians spoke up. The problem is that many protesting have no idea as to why they’re speaking out – actions based on empty words will not solve the ensuing problem. Many people are planning to go to the demonstrations tomorrow, but it’s the same as I’ve always said: it’s just to be seen and know what’s going on.

So now the Muslim Brotherhood has said that it will join protests tomorrow and El Baradei is even expected to appear (although he seems to have problems mingling with the average Egyptian, so I wonder how he remotely feels about protesting with them). Wanting a democracy is one thing, but do Egyptians understand what a democracy really is?

Why did it take Tunisia to show Egypt that it could be done? Are Egyptians really sheep and just waiting to follow the lead of another? If so, that’s sad considering that Egypt should be the one showing others that it can be done.

The impact of instability in Egypt is far greater than that of Tunisia, and it’s no secret. I won’t remotely touch those topics since many of you are already well aware. Expect to see the US and other Western allies paying more attention to Egypt, and also expect to see more governmental crackdowns and harsher beatings.

I’m excited that Egyptians are passionate about something other than an Ahly vs Zamalak football match, and any human being deserves the right to ask for a better life. That doesn’t make me nervous and sad anticipating the lives that will undoubtedly be lost tomorrow.

Mubarak sits silent and I have to wonder if he’s resting so comfortably thinking that the West has his back? The government has officially blocked Facebook and is rumored to be blocking mobile phone access tomorrow. The protests are already planned, restricting access now will more than likely have little to no impact. Like El Baradei, Mubarak should instead be using social networking to his advantage.

Another point is that the government knew about the planned demonstrations on Tuesday nearly 1.5 weeks in advance and they allowed them to happen in order to show that they give Egyptians the right to voice their concerns. That was possibly Mubarak’s most fatal move.

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