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Egypt 3

1 Feb 2011

Looks like mostly peaceful demonstrations so far today.  I have seen estimates ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000 demonstrators in and around Tahrir Square.  However, some have reported that the army is limiting movement – blocking roads from Alexandria to Cairo, trains are not running.  Also I saw video yesterday of police (or maybe army?) using water canons against people trying to cross one of the main bridges over the Nile to get to Tahrir Square.  I understand that state-controlled Egyptian TV is broadcasting close-up shots of pro-Mubarak demonstrations.

It seems some want to march from Tahrir Square (the main site of the demonstration in Cairo) to the presidential palace, but others think it would be too far to walk and that if they leave Tahrir Square, security may take over the square and not let them back in.

The army’s statement not to use force against the people ( BBC News – Egyptian army statement vowing not to use … ) was unprecedented.  This has surely emboldened many to join the demonstrations.  I hope that people will not push this too far – for example by storming the presidential palace.

One humorous tweet I saw was “If the government wants people to stay at home and do nothing, then just turn back on the internet.”  The internet has now be totally cut off and journalists are still reporting that they are being roughed up and their cameras, computers and phones taken away.

Also, in Jordan, King Abdullah has dismissed the government, including Prime Minister Samir Rifai whom the demonstrations were primarily against.

This movement (Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan) could have huge consequences for totalitarian and dictatorial regimes around the world.  There are other places that would be ripe for this kind of revolt – but with governments which would not hesitate to put down such demonstrations very quickly and violently.  Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a statement to the BBC World Service (which may have had to be approved by the government?) acknowledged what was happening in a way that clearly referenced her country, but did not outright call for demonstrations: “I think after so many years, people have got tired of the military. I think what it showed is that people have much better means of getting in touch with each other and arranging mass public demonstrations. I think protests are one way of bringing about change, but not necessarily the best way. As for the president leaving, I think it depends on the situation in the country. I think if the situation has been such that there’s no other way, then surely they have take whatever opportunities they get.” (reported on BBC’s live news feed)

I have started using for bookmarking – mostly news related stuff – and have several pages related to this bookmarked there. I have an interesting one on the propaganda on Egyptian State TV and another on some Arabic cartoons (with translation) about the current situation.

Continuing to hope and pray for a peaceful transition to a more democratic, more free, and more evenly prosperous country.


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