Monday, January 31, 2011
A revolution in Egypt?
Hey everyone, I know it's been way, way, way too long, and you can feel free to use the comments section to lambast me for my lack of posts over the past few weeks. Some exciting things have been going on in the world. Time to talk about at least one of them...
Felix knew what was up when we were talking in 703's class today: the protests in Egypt are the biggest news story of the moment. Here's the gist: Egypt has been ruled for over 30 years by a dictator, Hosni Mubarak. He calls himself the president and he holds elections every few years. But the elections are always rigged so that he remains in power. Egypt's government is made up of his friends and allies. His political opponents are often thrown in jail. We've learned about corruption in the eighth grade, but the word "corruption" doesn't begin to describe the injustice of Mubarak's government.
Now, days after a similar uprising in an African country called Tunisia, Egyptians seem to have had enough of Mubarak. Two weeks ago, Egyptian political activists called for protests on a Facebook page. Since then, many Egyptians have protested--even rioted--in the streets. The police couldn't control the crowds, so Mubarak called in the army. But many people in the army seem to agree with the protesters, and the army has promised that they won't shoot at protesters. It's hard to imagine that Mubarak will be president for much longer, but we don't know how long he'll try to stay in power. And if he leaves, who knows what will happen next? There might be fair elections, there might not be. The country might become more chaotic, the country might become more peaceful. The new government could be secular (not linked with a religious group) or it could be Islamic (linked to the Muslim faith).
Ready to add another layer of complexity onto this? The U.S. government is allied with Mubarak. Yes, Mubarak the corrupt dictator is friends with the United States. In fact, the U.S. government sends millions of dollars of aid to Egypt each year. Why? For one thing, Egypt recognizes and keeps peace with Israel, the U.S.'s strongest ally in the Middle East. The Egyptian government has not encouraged or sheltered terrorists that target the U.S. The U.S. is also happy to have Egypt as an ally in an important, oil-rich part of the world. American government officials would surely like to see a real democracy in Egypt, but they're also glad just to have an ally in the Middle East.
We're learning about the American Revolution in seventh grade. Now, a revolution seems to be unfolding in Egypt. A new government will take control, and it will probably promise more rights and more justice for the Egyptians.
What do you think? Should we celebrate these protests? Should we be happy that a dictator is falling? Should we worry about whether Egypt will be safe and stable with a new government? Should we worry about whether the new Egyptian government will be an American ally?
Here are some links: