News / Middle East

Egypt Uprising Draws Comparisons With Iran

Iranian protests during the 1979 Islamic Revolution
Iranian protests during the 1979 Islamic Revolution

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell

On Friday Iran will mark the anniversary of its Islamic revolution. Thirty-two years on, world leaders are reassessing their relations with Egypt in the wake of the anti-government protests there, with some wondering whether it will follow a similar path to Iran. But many observers say the Egyptian protesters are not motivated by religion.

Just what is the motivating force driving the millions of protesters on the streets of Egyptian cities - and where will it all end? They are questions on the minds of many world leaders.
Some analysts say history is repeating itself - the start of an Islamic revolution in Egypt, just like Iran in 1979.

But many who’ve witnessed the protests first-hand disagree.

“This is not an Islamic takeover," said Shiraz Maher, of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London, who has just returned from Cairo.  "I was in Tahrir Square doing research for our office here and really when you speak to those guys, they’re clear that this is about very basic things. It’s about human rights, it’s about freedom, about liberty and reclaiming their dignity as Egyptians.”

At first glance the scenes of protest and violence in Egypt are strikingly similar to the newsreels of 1979 from Iran.

Then, anti-government demonstrations gained momentum and spawned violent street battles, as the U.S.-backed Shah monarchy was swept from power. Iran was declared an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini.

Iranian-born analyst Hazhir Teimourian was a journalist covering the Iranian revolution for international media. He says there are ominous parallels between those events and what’s now unfolding in Egypt.

“The Iranians told themselves that, ‘Nothing worse can happen to us, we want the Shah to go and then we will agree among ourselves about the succeeding government.’ The Egyptians are making the same mistake and unfortunately things can go wrong," he said. "Unfortunately they are not united, apart from wanting to see the back of Mubarak.”

No single opposition group in Egypt has majority support.

The Muslim Brotherhood remains the most powerful; they say they do not seek power, nor an Islamic takeover in Egypt.

Shiraz Maher, of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, says America and the West should have been quicker to back the protesters.

“People are starting to become despondent," he said. "They are saying, 'Where are the kinds of values and freedoms that you want to hold for yourselves but suddenly it’s not good enough for Egyptians?' And so inevitably I think if people are going to feel betrayed, if people are going to feel ‘It’s good enough for you but it’s not good enough for us’ or ‘We’re always going to be distrusted because we’re Arab or Muslim’, then that ultimately will play into the hands of Islamist groups.”

Maher says there is a well-established network of radical Muslim groups in Egypt. But the protesters have not looked to them for leadership.

That’s in contrast to Iran - where the Ayatollah Khomeini was the figurehead of the protests.

Analyst Hazhir Temourian remains pessimistic for Egypt’s long-term political future.

“We expect the population of Egypt to increase from 85 million now to 120 million by the middle of this century," he said. "A whole third of them are under 15. Sixty percent of the people of Egypt are under 30. I think that no mode of governance, clean and democratic or religious or whatever, is going to answer the rising expectations of that many young people.”

Teimourian says that’s a situation facing governments across the developing world - and the uprising in Egypt is likely to be repeated far beyond its borders.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid