News / Middle East

Egypt's Unrest Like Tunisia's, But Arab States Differ

Anti-government demonstrators shout slogans against President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, January 27, 2011.
Anti-government demonstrators shout slogans against President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, January 27, 2011.

Anti-government protestors in Egypt continued to defy a ban on demonstrations on Thursday, clashing with police in several cities. The unrest follows similar protests in Tunisia that toppled the 23-year rule of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country January 14th.

Observers say the protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has led the country for nearly 30 years, are unprecedented. But Amin Saikal, director of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra told VOA’s Victor Beattie, there are key differences between what happened in Tunisia and what is currently unfolding in Egypt.

“Egypt had serious riots in 1977, but that was some four years before President Mubarak came to power. And this is the first time that there has been a very popular uprising against President Mubarak’s Egypt, and for that matter, my feeling is that this uprising is significant, and I think it could mean the beginning of the end for President Mubarak and the possibility of his son succeeding him. I think now the time has come for urgent reformation of the Egyptian political and economic system, and that is something that also the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for."

Who is behind the unrest and what are the reasons?  There are some indications that it’s primarily young people who are involved and they’re frustrated by the lack of economic opportunity.

“Uprisings or demonstrations have been very much inspired by the success of the Tunisian people and overthrowing their authoritarian ruler, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country to Saudi Arabia.
But, at the same time, Egypt shares a number of conditions which led Tunisians to rise against their rulers, and that is poverty, corruption, malfunctioning of the administration as well as political repression, and I think it’s come to the point that the Egyptian people want to take their destiny [into their] own hands, but, at the same time, it has to be pointed out that Mubarak’s regime is still very strong. And in some ways, Egypt is very different from Tunisia.
In Egypt, the level of education is not as widespread and as high as has been the case with Tunisia, and also, the level of social and political consciousness is somewhat limited in Egypt than has been the case with Tunisians. Of course, these factors could have an important role in terms of enabling the regime to regain control but, at the same time, the demonstrations have sent a clear signal that his era may be over.”

Is there a threat that Islamist radicals in North Africa may take advantage of what’s occurring in Tunisia and Egypt?

“I don’t think there is a strong possibility of Islamists taking over in Egypt. I think what could transpire in Tunisia is more of a semi-secular government rather than an Islamist government in the sense which came to power in Iran in the wake of the Iranian revolution in 1978-79. 
But in the case of Egypt, there is a strong Islamist movement that is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been a banned opposition under President Mubarak and, for that matter, under his predecessors.  They, of course, could take advantage of the situation in order to regain their strength.
But I think the Egyptian people on the whole probably would like to have a government which would not really push them in the direction that Iran has been led to and, therefore, they may want to opt for a government which is going to be democratic, reformist and capable of delivering the necessary services and commodities that the Egyptian public requires very badly.”

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs