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Egypt’s President Mubarak steps down: Why Egypt matters and why we should care

After 18 days of the anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt, the majority of it in Tahrir Square, Mubarak handed the military control of the country on the morning Feb 11. Credit: Reuters

After 18 days of the anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt, the majority of it in Tahrir Square, Mubarak handed the military control of the country on the morning Feb 11. Credit: Reuters

Letter from the Editors

By: Angela Romano & Kaitlin Kimont, Editors-in-chief

On Friday Feb. 11, Egypt erupted in celebration after President Hosni Mubarak announced his resignation and transfer of presidential power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. After three weeks of zealous, continually growing protests wanting a democratic reform, Mubarak’s 30-year reign had come to an end. Nevertheless, Egyptians are jubilant and victorious.

Protests started on Tuesday, Jan. 25, when, inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia, thousands began taking to the streets to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of Mubarak. These were the first protests on such a large scale in Egypt since the 1970s, according to the Huffington Post.

Egypt run by Mubarek has been a long-standing American ally that cooperated with the United States on a long list of issues; one for example is assisting U.S. military operations in the Middle East to helping secure shipping lanes.

But why should Americans, or even just students, care about the Egyptian Revolution?

Many reasons. For starters, during this state of transition for Egypt the fate of America’s regional influence and its diplomatic, economic and military ties to the Middle East are unsure right now. This state of uncertainty is exciting, but nevertheless a bit nerve-racking.

Another reason: Any student in the communication or journalism field can understand the impact of how the news in Egypt made its way back to the U.S. In the beginning of the protests the Egyptian government had blocked almost all Internet and mobile phone access in hopes that this would halt the protests and demand the president to resign. The people worked around this restriction for some time; Facebook and Twitter became the medium of alternative communication.

Eventually they blocked access to Facebook and Twitter and stopped email and other methods of communication all together. Journalists were trapped and jailed for reporting, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper had been punched in the head several times. A journalist quit her job with Egypt’s state-run Nile TV saying that she did not want to be part of their ”propaganda machine”. Shahira Amin said, “We were not allowed to report on what was happening in Tahrir Square,” according to BBC.

The state Egypt is in right now is still very fresh; no one is sure what to expect to happen or what to learn from this yet. However, changes are going to happen soon and we need to pay close attention to how it evolves. According to NPR’s Stephan Walt, “Here’s one tentative lesson: Democracy promotion in the Arab world (and in lots of other places) is better achieved from the bottom up, and via indirect political means, than at the point of a rifle barrel (as in Iraq). If that lesson holds up, we ought to carve it in marble at the Pentagon, the State Department, and the American Enterprise Institute.”

President Barack after Mubarack’s resignation said, “The people of Egypt have spoken, the voices have been heard and Egypt will never be the same. Egyptians have inspired us. They have done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of non-violence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but non-violence, moral force, that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.”

President Obama welcomes Mubarak’s decision to step down. According to CNN, “The U.S. president warned that there are “tough days ahead” for Egypt but declared his confidence in the ability of the Egyptian people to “find the answers” they are seeking “peacefully, constructively and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks.”’

Many people may not know how heavily Egypt affects our lives as Americans. However people should care about Egypt’s transition into a democracy because the U.S. will play a clear and decisive role in pushing them towards this.

Photo: Courtesy of Reuters

Caption: After 18 days of the anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt, the majority of it in Tahrir Square, Mubarak handed the military control of the country on the morning Feb 11.

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