Tags: egypt protests mubarak

Egypt Anti-Gov't Protests Break New Ground

Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011 02:25 PM

Egypt is not Tunisia. It's much bigger. Eighty million people, compared with 10 million. Geographically, politically, strategically, it's in a different league – the Arab world's natural leader and its most populous nation. But many of the grievances on the street are the same. Tunis and Cairo differ only in size. If Egypt explodes, the explosion will be much bigger, too, reports London's Guardian newspaper.

Egyptians have been here before. The so-called Cairo spring of 2005 briefly lifted hopes of peaceful reform and open elections. Those hopes died, like autumn leaves, blown away by a withering sirocco of regressive measures and reimposed emergency laws. Food and price riots in Mahalla el Kubra in 2008 briefly raised the standard of revolt again. They were quickly suppressed.

But Tuesday's large-scale protests were different in significant ways, sending unsettling signals to a regime that has made complacency a way of life. "Day of Rage" demonstrators in Cairo did not merely stand and shout in small groups, as is usual. They did not remain in one place. They joined together – and they marched. And in some cases, the police could not, or would not, stop them.

This took President Hosni Mubarak and his ministers way out of their comfort zone. Interior minister Habib al-Adli had said earlier he held no objection to stationary protests by small groups. But marching en masse, uncontrolled and officially undirected, along a central Cairo boulevard, heading for the regime heartland of Tahrir Square – this was something new and dangerous.

Read the entire story at guardian.co.uk

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