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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs