Egypt Crisis

By: Ranajoy Singha

মিশরের সাম্প্রতিক বিপ্লব পুঁজিবাদী রাষ্ট্রের একনায়কতন্ত্রের উপর এক বিশাল ধাক্কা । তাছাড়া মূল্যবৃদ্ধি ও ক্রমবর্দ্ধমান বেকারত্বও এই অভ্যুত্থানের অন্যতম কারণ।সোশাল মিডিয়া বা ইন্টারনেটের ব্যবহার রাষ্ট্রচালিত সাধারণ প্রচারমাধ্যম কে পাত্তা না দিয়ে এই আন্দোলনকে দানা বাঁধতে সাহায্য করেছে ও রাতারাতি তুঙ্গে নিয়ে গেছে।

Some information about Egypt:

Area: 1,002,450 Sq Km.

Population: 79,089,650 (September 30, 2010 estimate)

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 began in Egypt on 25 January 2011, with a series of street demonstrations, marches, rallies, acts of civil disobedience, riots, labor strikes, and violent clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, and throughout other cities in Egypt, following similar events in Tunisia and as part of a longer-term campaign of civil resistance. Millions of protesters from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and religions demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, along with an end to corruption and police repression, and enactment of democratic reforms of the political system. On 11 February, Mubarak resigned from office as a result of determined popular protest and pressure.

Why is this happening now?

It was prompted by the ousting of Tunisia’s president of 23 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after weeks of violent protests. The ripple of dissent has reached Morocco, Jordan, Yemen and Syria. Egypt is due to hold presidential elections in September. If Mr Mubarak does not stand, he is widely expected to be replaced by his son Gamal, despite criticism that hereditary succession does not belong in a democracy.

Inspired by the Tunisian revolution and fed up with Mubarak’s 30 years of authoritarian rule, thousands of protesters attempted to converge on the city’s central Tahrir Square to send a message that the time for change has come. Meanwhile, the country was plunged into a telecommunications black hole, as the government took the unprecedented step of shutting down the Internet, cellphone service, and even most international telephone lines.

Grievances of Egyptian protesters have focused on legal and political issues including police brutality, state of emergency laws, lack of free elections and freedom of speech, and uncontrollable corruption, as well as economic issues including high unemployment, food price inflation, and low minimum wages. The primary demands from protest organizers are the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime, the end of Emergency Law (martial law), freedom, justice, a responsive non-military government, and management of Egypt’s resources. Labour unions were said to play an integral part in the protests.

Several of the young people in the room were members of Nobel laureate and would-be presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei’s Campaign for Change. Many of them also have links to the We Are All Khaled Said protest movement, which was formed after a young Egyptian man of that name was apparently beaten to death in police custody last year.

Sally, 32, is a psychiatrist who just moved back to Cairo from London, partly because, she says, “I want to see change.”

Salma and Omar, 19 and 22, are the niece and nephew of a political opposition figure. Salma, a slight, soft-voiced brunette, has already been arrested once for her political activism. She and her brother both say, matter-of-factly, that they’re ready to die to “free Egypt from this terrible regime.”

Ziad, 30, whose home this is, is a human rights lawyer and longtime activist. His mother,

Ekram, a journalist, was one of 50 student militants arrested by President Sadat after Egypt’s 1977 bread riot—the last time Egyptians revolted this dramatically against their government.

Friday’s (28th Jan) demonstrations were coordinated by groups across the spectrum of Egypt’s political opposition, including young members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had agreed, however, not to chant religious slogans. But activists were deprived of all the tools they have used so far to organize—Twitter, Facebook, and SMS service on cellphones were shut down Thursday. By Friday morning, Internet and cellphone service across the country was gone. The activists had to resort to traditional organizing: designated land lines and safe houses; face-to-face meetings; pre-arranged rendezvous. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’ or ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ are the famous sayings which the many Egyptians have been following this week. Groups like ‘ We Rebuild’ have scramble to keep the country connected to the outside world, by utilizing land-line telephones, fax machines and ham radios to keep the flow of information open within and out of Egypt.

Egypt’s government suddenly ordered the shut down of all ISPs s in the country’s, except the Noor Group, just after midnight local time last Thursday. Mobile networks was also turned off in some areas. The blackout has apparently been ordered to disorganize the growing protest movement calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

Jillian York, a researcher with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, has said in an e-mail that, “Basically, there are three ways of getting information out right now — get access to the Noor ISP (which has about 8 percent of the market), use a land line to call someone, or use dial-up.” Citizens having dial-up modems can not get Internet connection through their local ISP, but can call an international number and reach a modem in another country which in-turn connects them to the outside world.

Andrew Lewman, who is Executive Director of Tor Project, confirms, “We thought we were under denial-of-service attack. The site was getting up to 3,000 requests per second, the vast majority of them from Egypt. Since then we’ve seen a quadrupling of Tor clients connecting from Noor over the past 24 hours.”

In this hour’s lead story, Revolution in Cairo, tracing the long road these young Egyptian activists took to Tahrir Square, as they’ve made increasingly bold use of the Internet in their underground resistance over the last few years. Through sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the members of April 6 and related groups helped organize a political movement that the secret police did not understand and could not stop, despite the arrest and torture of some of the movement’s key members.

Huge crowds have occupied the main square in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to reinforce their demand for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

The tens of thousands of protesters attending the “day of departure” rally in Tahrir Square waved flags and chanted “Leave! Leave! Leave!”

Soldiers have been guarding the area to limit disruption by Mubarak supporters.

Mr Mubarak has said he is “fed up” with being in power, but that he does not want to resign as it will cause chaos.

Meanwhile, speaking in Washington, US President Barack Obama called for an “orderly transition that begins right now” in Egypt.

Mr Obama said the “entire world is watching” and urged Mr Mubarak to “make the right decision”.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei took issue with the president’s remarks, saying: “We as a people are fed up as well, it is not only him.” “The idea that there would be chaos is symptomatic of a dictatorship. He thinks if he leaves power the whole country will fall apart.” And White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also rejected the argument that there might be chaos if Mr Mubarak stepped down now. A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Issam al-Aryan, meanwhile denied that his group had eyes on the presidency, telling the BBC that it would prefer the opposition to nominate a consensus candidate. “We want a civil state, based on Islamic principles. A democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary,” he added.

Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan and former Yugoslavia there can be no effective division into armed conflict. The army has overwhelming firepower. Volunteers and soldiers put on a highly organized operation. They searched everyone who entered the square to make sure they had no weapons. There was even a separate queue for women. Tens of thousands joined the crowd, which was larger than Thursday’s. There were shouts and whistles, and more cries of “Leave, leave Mubarak!” Despite all the government’s concessions, the message remains unchanged.

Egypt’s health ministry says eight people were killed and more than 800 injured in the clashes in Cairo in recent days. The UN believes more than 300 have died across Egypt since the protests began on 25 January, with about 4,000 hurt.

In Egypt, high unemployment, low wages and costly foodstuffs were a major force in propelling hundreds of thousands of protesters to demonstrate throughout the country for 18 days, ultimately leading to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 according to the country’s vice president.

G-20 leaders pledge to help economies of Egypt, Tunisia

The world’s leading nations concluded a two-day G-20 meeting in Paris on Saturday by pledging to support the new governments arising in revolution-torn Egypt and Tunisia.

“We stand ready to support Egypt and Tunisia, with responses at the appropriate time well coordinated with the international institutions and the regional development banks to accompany reforms designed to the benefit of the whole population and the stabilization of their economies,” the group of finance ministers and central bank leaders said in an official communication.

As indicators of the economic stress in both countries, Egypt’s unemployment rate was an estimated 9.7% in 2010, with 20% of the population below the poverty line, and Tunisia’s unemployment rate was an estimated 14% in 2010, according to the CIA World Factbook. Some analysts believe the real jobless rates in both countries are much higher.

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak just resigned after weeks of dramatic protests in Cairo and across Egypt.

As the biggest country in the Arab world, Egypt is seen as a trend leader for the broader Middle East.

Libya gained independence as the Kingdom of Libya in 1951. Libya has been ruled from 1969 to the present by Muammar al-Gaddafi, who rose to power in a military coup. In February 2011 mass protests and demonstrations broke out across Libya against Gaddafi’s government. By 23 February 2011, the Libyan opposition was reported to be in control of several coastal towns and cities in eastern and central Libya, with other sources stating that the Gaddafi government only retained control of a few parts of Tripoli and the southern desert town of Saba.

Less than 2 weeks of the 2011 Libyan revolution, Switzerland has confirmed the immediate freeze of any assets that may belong to president Moammar Gadhafi and his entourage.

So the question on everyone’s mind is: who’s next?

Although unclear about the exact estimation of the Libyan assets in various Swiss banks, officials informed the AFP that total Swiss banking relations with Libya amounted to 613 million Swiss francs, with an additional 205 million francs in paper or fiduciary operations.

The freeze, lasting for a total of three years, will enable organizations to locate any luxury goods, real estate properties or other deposits linked to the ruler and his associates.

The Libyan foreign ministry however denies Gaddafi owning any Swiss bank accounts or funds. In a statement, the ministry said, “We demand that … Switzerland proves that the brother leader has funds or bank accounts in its banks or in any other banks around the world.”

The ministry further stated that if the Swiss government fails to prove authentication for the “unfounded statement,” the Libyan ministry will take appropriate legal procedures to address the issue.

What countries offer a similar mixture to that found in Egypt? And what investments are at stake?

Similar asset freezes have also been imposed earlier by the Swiss government during the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. However, such steps were taken only after Egypt‘s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia‘s Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali were ousted.

In Morocco, Reforms are already lined up.

In Jordan, King Abdullah tries to get ahead of the crisis

The Egyptian revolution is a challenge to state led authoritarian capitalism, but it is also a response to rising food costs and soaring unemployment. There is also the social media factor, which has allowed protesters to circumvent traditional state run media sources and organize more efficiently

Help Links:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12362826

http://www.egyptdailynews.com/

http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/28/egypt-revolution-inside-a-cairo-street-protest.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Revolution_of_2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/opinion/25iht-edkupchan25.html

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10 Responses to “Egypt Crisis”

  1. Bipu 26 February 2011 at 1:02 PM #

    Anywhere I did not get such detail about the revolution of Egypt except the website of SRAI.

  2. biplab das 26 February 2011 at 7:58 PM #

    an awaysome article.
    and good photo also.

  3. suman 26 February 2011 at 8:24 PM #

    the best article i hv evr read about egypt.

  4. Anabil Sengupta 27 February 2011 at 1:08 PM #

    Darun article…

  5. Ankita Rajeshwari 28 February 2011 at 7:37 AM #

    Thanks to srai for publishing this awesome article.

  6. subinoy 28 February 2011 at 3:16 PM #

    nice hey r u all bengalis

  7. Alak Sasmal 28 February 2011 at 8:03 PM #

    সাম্য আর গনতন্ত্রের অধিকারকে কতদিন আর দবিয়ে রাখা যায়। সাম্য আর গনতন্ত্রের জয় তো অবশ্যম্ভাবী ইতিহাস তাই বলে।

  8. Madhusudan Mahato 14 March 2011 at 2:51 PM #

    Best article about Egypt.Want abolition of dictatorship.

  9. dubinoy 8 May 2011 at 8:43 PM #

    is this kolkata


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