Friday, January 28, 2011


The Tunisian government has fallen after massive demonstrations. There are massive demonstrations going on in Egypt right now, covered live by Al Jazeera. There were demonstrations in Yemen yesterday and demonstrations in Jordan today, all demanding fundimental change.

Per The Guardian today:
But despite the talk of a "Twitter revolution" it is worth remembering that the specific events that helped fuel this uprising (in Egypt) happened offline. On top of the long-burning grievances of political oppression and economic hardship, it was a 2008 strike by textile workers in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla al-Kubra that fired the imagination of many of those on the streets today. The three people shot dead by security forces during the Mahalla unrest on 16 April inspired an online movement which took its name from the date.

The traditional working class from all corners of the country have continued to provoke and inspire dissident activity ever since, occupying pavements outside parliament for weeks on end to highlight the devastating impact of the neoliberal reforms pursued by the ruling NDP party. Some trade unions – most notably the real estate tax collectors – have gone on to break free from state control.

Away from the economic concerns, anger at police corruption and brutality has been at the heart of the new wave of protest. "We are all Khaled Said," a Facebook group dedicated to the memory of a young Alexandrian man beaten to death by police last year, quickly gained a huge following. Its message of solidarity against the security forces attracted young people who had never before taken part in political activism. "I had never joined any protests before. I didn't believe in the people leading them," said Adef Husseini, a call centre worker in Cairo who took to the street on Tuesday. "Now, though, the people are the leaders."

But what started on Tuesday with a set of specific demands – the resignation of the interior minister, the end of emergency law, and the imposition of a two-term limit on the presidency – has coalesced into something far more radical and brought countless more people, whose latent hostility to the Mubarak regime had never before translated into concrete action, into confrontation with the state.


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