Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Revolution Continues

We continue to watch this standoff between an aging and out-of-touch Egyptian government and the growing numbers of people who are fed up with the old ways and want to begin the new today.  They feel insulted when their leaders say that they're not ready for democracy.  They feel insulted when their leaders patronize them by complimenting the young people, but then tell them to go home, that they've been heard.  They're feeling insulted when their leaders say that the protests are insulting Egypt.

Although the crowds ebb and flow, on the primary protest days, the crowds get bigger.  They're young and old, male and female, Muslim and Christian.  Yes, that last piece needs to be lifted up -- both Muslim and Christian voices are in the crowd.  This isn't Iran in 1979.  There is no Khomeini waiting in the wings.  This doesn't appear to be ideologically driven.  In fact, the hero of this revolution is a young Google executive who set up a Facebook page honoring a young man who was beaten to death by the police, a Facebook page that launched the protests.  The cat is out of the bag and putting it back in will not be easy.  

The government thinks it can wait things out, but the protesters are not heeding the warnings to go home.  They're not going to be satisfied with a half-revolution with promises to study constitutional changes.  They want to see the end of emergency powers and the formation of a true interim government that is run by members of the current regime.

As Tom Friedman notes, the key maybe the Army, which to this point is staying neutral.  But if they understand that Mubarak is the past and this crowd is the future, perhaps (especially with some USA urging) will go with the future.  Remember that 50% of Egyptians are under 25.  They've known only repression and want something better.  Time will tell as to who will win out, but today we must say -- "We are all Egyptians."

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