On January 25th, nearly 100,000 Egyptians staged the first of ongoing mass protests against government corruption and failing economic policies. The day was national Police Day, and was chosen to honor the life of an Alexandria man who was allegedly beaten to death by Egyptian police. The demonstration, organized on Facebook, was a response to mounting dissatisfaction of Egyptian people, especially jobless youth, who see a dim future under the current government system they call corrupt. It seems that they were also inspired by similar recent protests in Tunisia that ousted the president there.
Within six days of the first protest the Egyptian government shut down all Internet service providers. When the last connection went dark, the country’s network became completely cut off from the rest of the world.
Some communication has been reestablished. And in Portland, where the Internet is alive and well, members of the Egyptian community are actively doing their part to protest in solidarity with their friends and families half a world away. About 200 people demonstrated against President Hosni Mubarak’s government last Saturday at Pioneer Courthouse Square. More protests may follow. Despite Mubarak’s plan, announced Tuesday, to step down in September, many people say they want him out now.
President Obama says Mubark realizes the current situation is not sustainable. The White House reportedly urged him to step down, after several remarks by the president that have appeared to support social change.
The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.
Are you a member of the Egyptian community in Oregon? Do you have connections to other parts of the Middle East? How have you been keeping up with the protests in Egypt? What do you think about the United States’ relationship with Egypt?