Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's Happening in Egypt? - Day 8 | #jan25 #Feb1

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A little less "reporting," a little more commentary today...

This morning, Al Jazeera reported that attendance at the historic "March of Millions" in Tahrir Square was over 1 million people, with an estimate of over 2 million protesters in all of Cairo.

Mubarak is expected to give a speech later soon, presumably in an attempt to appease and diffuse the crowds. Not likely to happen - many report that he will be simply stating that he will not be running in the upcoming election. (Like he had a chance, without rigging it or claiming office by force...)

Mother Jones has reported on Mubarak's human rights abuses. You can check that out here.

Also, earlier today, the US ordered the evacuation of all nonessential American personnel in Egypt. If I remember correctly, Canada and... Britain? also ordered evacuations.

Currently on BBC world news - very, very angry protesters...  Everyone feels quite strongly about this"Go to hell, Mubarak! Go away! Leave us alone! We will make it! We are not the first people in the world to get rid of a dictator!" as shouted by one woman. Even little children are leading the chants...

What amazes me so much about this is that this is truly a national, all-encompassing movement. The Egyptian people are putting aside all differences to fight for a common cause. The army that once fought against them is standing with them all... Christians and Muslims are publicly vowing to protect each other from harm, especially while praying. (That is unheard of in the US...) Citizens are sharing with each other-- "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," as an Al Jazeera reporter stated this morning. So putting aside the Mubarak as Hitler images, and noose-hung effigies (and of course the bouts of violence) this, to me, is beautiful in a way...

4:00pm EST - Mubarak has begun his speech... Will update once I can get a transcript. Damn ADD... Al Jazeera's translator & CNN's closed captioning are... different, so if I get exact wording off, it's because la atakallam arabi. I can't speak Arabic. Oh hey! Al Jazeera is now broadcasting the speech in English... Oh, no, it's just a guy rereading it.

As expected, the protesters are very angry. This falls very short of their demands... Mubarak is expecting to finish out the remainder of his term, however, we have yet to see if that will happen as the protesters continue to chant "leave! Leave!" Mubarak vowed that he will die on Egyptian soil (meaning he has no intentions of running away in exile)... and as soon as he said that (and I heard/read the translation ^^"), I cringed. He probably shouldn't have said that... That might happen sooner than he thinks... :-/ Word of advice, Mubarak - when they're hanging you in effigy, it might not be the time to bring up death, ok? Angry people + deep-seated hatred of you + volatile sociopolitical situation = potentially really bad consequences for a dictator. Best just go enjoy exile in Senegal...

Commentators have been saying that Mubarak wants to leave honorably, which is why he intends to finish out his term. Maybe it's just an American's way of looking at things, but wouldn't it be more honorable to say "Ok, I understand that I haven't lived up to your expectations, and I'm sorry. You 'elected' me, I am here to serve you. So if you want me to step down, I will"? Instead of this nonsense of him trying to hold on to the tiniest threads?

Though I also have to say, I wonder how things would be once the emotional response subsides. If he were allowed to finish out his term, perhaps in a "limited" capacity of some sort, what would happen? He is going to leave whether he likes it or not-- that much is definitely certain. The question is, when? Now? In September? Or if he were allowed to stay, would he try to quash the rebellion and supplant himself within the presidency for another 30 years? (I suspect other countries wouldn't be so cool with that, though... "Protector" USA would totally jump in at some point. Not sure how I feel about that right now. General policy is None of Our Business unless it would be unethical to ignore the problem, or they actually, seriously want our help-- but no wars; but if Egypt asks for our help, could we refuse?)

5:15pm - CNN headline is "MUBARAK WILL STEP DOWN" Um... ok, that's the problem, though. It's not the same as what the protesters are demanding. Eventually, most presidents step down. Again, the issue is when.

5:25pm - Mother Jones is reporting that the protest has gotten violent in Alexandria. Shots have been fired, as Mubarak supporters clash with protesters. Al Jazeera is saying that the shots came from the Egyptian police. (Apparently there actually are Mubarak supporters... and they're fighting back?)

6:45pm - President Obama - "...an orderly transition must begin now."

"  Oh freedom... May G-d make it happen... Tonight."  

P.S. - this is the translation of what the protesters were chanting earlier....
..if you're wondering why it's here.

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