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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid