I’m sure by now many of you have heard that Friday, January 28, 2011, became known as the “Day of Rage” in Egypt. After the Friday prayers, Egyptians took to the streets in protest of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in office for 30 years.
Why protest? Why not just vote him out?
Egypt has been under “Emergency Law” since Hosni Mubarak’s succession of assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Emergency Law is what holds Egypt back from the Democracy its constitution promises. This state of Emergency law, faithfully renewed every 3 years (It actually started in 1967, and there was about an 18 month break before President Sadat’s Assassination) permits government disruption of everything from organized protests to political funding, and has ben used repeatedly to cripple or quash opposition to the National Democratic Party.
Over recent years, Egypt’s Economy has suffered. Princes inflate at astronomical rates, but incomes aren’t increasing. Many industries in Egypt are Government subsidized, and the government’s response to cut back subsidies has only aggravated the out of control inflation.
Why haven’t we heard of this before? Egypt always seemed pretty peaceful?
Because it is pretty peaceful. But, as has happened so many times with nations in the Middle East, nations that ensure the supply of oil to the United States, the United States has provided financial aid to these regimes due to their benevolence toward US Policy. A sort of “Better the devil you know,” policy that, in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq and numerous other Arab nations has kept men in power through finance and influence that have been amicable to United States Foreign Policy, regardless of how those leaders treat the freedoms and rights of the people of the very nations they command.
In 1981, Hosni Mubarak was a good man. He came in at a time when it was necessary for him to do so, and held Egypt together through a time of crisis. But that was 30 years ago. And power corrupts. Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.
To this very moment, the words of a dear friend, spoken while I was in Egypt last September are echoing in my ears, “Egypt is on the brink of revolution. ”
With 2/3 of its population under the age of 30, Egypt’s youth, coordinating through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and spurred by similar actions in Tunisia, enacted the first day of Protests on January 25th, 2011. The police response to these protests was swift and brutal. A second day of protests was enacted on January 28th. After Friday prayers (called Jummah or Gummah, as Egyptians don’t normally use the J-sound in their Arabic), Youth swarmed the streets again in Cairo and Alexandria. Government response was to shut down the cell networks and the Internet service providers. To swarm the streets with police in armored vehicles firing tear gas into crowds.
105 People have been killed in these protests. The Police have retreated and the army, and their tanks have taken their place. Mubarak’s initial response was to dissolve the government in its entirety and to appoint two men into previously unheard of positions. The Protests have turned violent. Grocery stores are shut down. Government bakeries are only permitting the purchase of ten loaves of pita bread per day. Banks are closed, ATMs are shut down. Gas stations are closed. While cell service has been restored, internet has not.
United States citizens are being evacuated out of Egypt via charter flights to safe havens in Europe. Delta, Lufthansa, and Olympia.. the three biggest airline carriers to and from Egypt have stopped service. The United States embassy is shut down.
Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in September. I do not know if this will be enough to bring quiet to the streets and the voices of the people demanding change. I do not know if the damage done is too extensive to recover from with so distant a promise.
To those of you who have asked, my family in Alexandria is safe, indoors, but safe. And I thank all of you for your concern that you’ve shown. It’s been touching, and vital during this difficult time.
I felt like I needed to do something, for you, my customers and supprters and friends; to explain, to educate, to share, and to ask for your continued support in the coming months as Egypt undergoes some of the most radical political changes it has seen since 1967. So please find a Hijab and scarf, colored in the black, white and Red of Egypt’s flag, (With gold tassles for the Eagle of Saladin). I’ve sent it out in my Subscriber; and it’s available at my Mainstore.
I hope you wear it from time to time, to show your support of a free and democratic Egypt. To let people know that you will not look away.