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The Egyptian revolt, regularly referred to as the Revolution of 25 January, was an uprising that culminated in a series of revolts all over Egypt that began on 25 January 2011, the climax of which was a protest of more than 2 million people in Tahrir Square that finally led to the stepping of the nation’s first president, Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak had ruled the country for more than three days and was 82 years when he was overthrown. Despite being peaceful in most cities, the revolution was violent in some areas with the reported deaths of hundreds of people who had been killed by the pro-government security forces (Vick, para. 2).
The protests were fuelled by past injustices meted on the people by the Egyptian government, these included police cruelty, state of emergency laws, lack of free and fair elections and stifling of the freedom of speech, corruption, and economic issues such as high rates of unemployment, high food prices, and poverty among a majority of Egyptians. Protests by labor unions worsened the already sore situation.
Media reports have mentioned that close to 400 people died (some humanitarian organizations put the figure at 600), and more than 6,000 were injured. Not only did Mubarak step down as a result of the protest, the entire cabinet was dissolved and notable members of the government detained.
Besides, Mubarak’s assets were frozen. Suppose the Egyptian government was similar to that of the US, the picture would have been different owing to the democratic nature of the US.
Different Situation in America
The United States of America ranks 17th out of 167 countries on the Democratic Index compiled by the Economic Intelligence Unit. Out of the five category indices, it is labeled as a ‘full democracy’. On the contrary, Egypt is 121 steps lower at position 138 and is labeled as an ‘authoritarian regime’ (The Economist).
These figures were compiled in 2010, prior to the Egyptian revolt. Americans enjoy their freedom of expression and are free to express this freedom in whatever way they choose. The constitution protects its citizens against police brutality and prohibits any inhuman acts taken against its citizens.
If the Egyptian government was similar to that of the US, the protesters would have been offered police protection, however, if they became violent, non-violent methods such as water cannons and tear gas would have been used to disperse them unlike the Egyptian force that used live bullets, torture and detention to deter protesters.
The president would have formed a special commission to look into the grievances of the protesters, and possibly make a clarification on these issues. Besides, the leaders of the protesters would have been allowed to talk directly to the concerned authorities, and to deliver their petitions. Incidences of police brutality would have been investigated and if proved, disciplinary measures taken against those responsible.
Instead of declaring emergency laws, an Egyptian government similar to that of the US would have worked hard to address the issues expressed by the protesters as soon as possible.
Had the protest gotten to the level corresponding to that in Tahrir Square, the protesters would have received basic human needs such as sanitation, clean water, and food supplies.
At this stage, the president would have made significant progress towards diffusing the situation, rather than using the military to threaten the protesters. Protesters who are arrested would be released within 24 hours, or taken to court according to the constitution, rather than being tortured and killed.
The Economist. Democracy Index 2010. 2010, Web. <http://graphics.eiu.com/PDF/Democracy_Index_2010_web.pdf>
Vick, Karl. Egypt’s Last Pharaoh? The Rise and Fall of Hosni Mubarak. Time. February 2011. Web.. <http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2048689,00.html>