For ten days now the world has watched as the Egyptian people demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s thirty year dictatorship. While Mubarak has announced he will not run for re-election in September, the Egyptian people demand a transition immediately. As the so-called Egyptian Revolution continues I find myself transfixed by the question: why now? After three decades of oppression, what sparked the bravery and heroism I see from those in Egypt who refuse to be silenced another day?
But it’s not just in Egypt.
It started with a Tunisian man named Mohammed Bouaziz who burnt himself to death after his cart was confiscated by the council, sparking an uprising among the Tunisian people against government corruption and forcing President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile. It marks the first time in history that a dictator has been overthrown by popular revolt.
The opposition has had a domino effect in Jordan, Algeria and Libya, all who have seen violent anti-government protests in recent weeks. In Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he will not attempt to be re-elected when his term ends in 2013. King Abdullah of Jordan sacked his government in response to widespread protests on Tuesday. Four days ago police used violence against peaceful demonstrators in Sudan’s capitol.
While each country is struggling with their own economic, political and social challenges, these demonstrations by ordinary citizens attest to the power of the people. Arab nations under autocratic rule are protesting for their rights, for jobs, and most importantly for hope.
The latest reports on Egypt from Al Jazeera and CNN say there are people being fired at in the center of Cairo. The violence from pro-Mubarak supporters was a state-sponsored effort to rout demonstrators and many were plain-clothed police. The situation has escalated from a relatively peaceful mass demonstration to a violent clash between two political sides.
As the sun rises on the tenth day of anti-Mubarak protests, the Egyptian Museum is acting as Ground Zero and latest reports show no sign of peace. I only wonder how the world can sit back and watch the escalation in Tahrir Square.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable” -John F. Kennedy