After watching weeks of protests in Jordan, the collapse of the Tunisian government, and mass rallies for democratic reforms in Yemen, all eyes are now on Egypt, as the most populous country in the Arab world erupts in an unprecedented wave of civil disobedience. For four days, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have flooded streets throughout the country, calling for the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak and demanding an end to government corruption, economic inequalities, and authoritarian rule. Many of these brave protesters include young men and women who, as one Cairo professor describes, feel that “they may actually be able to determine their own destinies” for the first time in their lives. Solidarity actions are being organized around the world in support of the Egyptian protestors.
In response to increasingly violent protests, the Egyptian government deployed its state army to confront the civilian uprising. Independent human rights observers have counted more than 1,200 protestors who have been detained, and the government has cut off all access to the internet as well as cell phone transmissions in some areas. Yet, despite the chaos, it has also been reported via live news streaming that protesters have formed a massive human shield to protect the Egyptian Museum, the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts and mummies in the world.
While these protests undoubtedly represent a growing tide of mobilizations for democracy and economic reforms in North Africa and the Middle East, in the case of Egypt, it is still unclear if President Mubarak will respond with further repression, if he will institute reforms as recommended by the United States, or if there will be a President Mubarak at all.