By Vineeta Chawla:
Any government maintains law and order in any country, the absence of which results in chaos. But what happens if the people lose faith in the government, it results in protests, economic slowdown and political unrest. This is what is happening in Egypt these days.
The people in Egypt are protesting against the government as they have lost faith in President Hosni Mubarak who has been governing Egypt for the past 30 years. Mubarak’s rule had been challenged in the past but it was firmly crushed by him. This is the first time that Mubarak has faced opposition in such large numbers since he gained office in 1981.
The major cause for the protest is the rampant poverty and the sudden rise in prices of food articles. About 40 per cent of the population of Egypt lives in extreme poverty with many people sustaining in less than $2, which equals to Rs.92, a day. A sudden rise in food prices in 2008 also resulted in riots but nothing came of them. This and the fact that many of the youth below 40 years of age are unemployed have resulted in widespread riots.
These riots in Egypt have resulted in losses to man and property. The death toll has crossed 100 and over 1,500 have been arrested and brutally beaten. Till now the loyalties of the police and army remain with Mubarak hence the protests have been under control. But the army has singled out Mubarak for their leadership and is not in favor of his son Gamal who would succeed Mubarak if he decides to retire. Now the only way left for Mubarak is standing for the 6th term in the next presidential elections if he wants his dynasty to rule the country.
The protests being made in the country these days are not totally effective due to the lack of a declared leader, but they may do enough to uproot the Mubarak dynasty. These protests started in January 2011 when activists called for an uprising to protest against the government’s corruption and unemployment. January 25 was called the ‘day of rage’ when the people of Egypt took to streets and shouted out slogans like “Down with Mubarak”. To stop the protests the police had to use tear gas and water canons.
The people had used social networking sites like twitter and facebook to spread the message. This resulted in the government banning twitter, facebook and blackberry services on 27 January 2011. The following days saw more protests in and near Cairo, capital of Egypt. Mohamed El Baradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog turned democracy advocate, arrived in Egypt and joined the protests. He said that he is ready to leadÂ the transition in Egypt if he is asked to do so.
The protest for change is spreading in Egypt and has attracted attention of people all over the world. All that we can hope for is that this ends positively for Egypt and that the situation in the country stabilizes soon with minimum loss to the country’s economy.