The truth about the Egypt crisis
February 3, 2011
The arena of the most recent public protest has moved beyond Egypt and into the Middle Eastern countries of Yemen, Jordan and Syria. What sparked much of the recent discord was the protesting in Tunisia. College graduates, who used Facebook and Twitter to form a cohesive protesting force along with other discontented Tunisians, flocked to the streets. Taking a stand against the corruption and high unemployment that plagued the country, the protesters ultimately caused the authoritarian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country. He had ruled for 23 years.
People in other countries who were also experiencing years of repression from strong-armed rulers, looked to Tunisia in awe and wonderment. The protest movement in Tunisia proved that change could happen if the masses come together under a common purpose and it spread like a fever, rippling throughout the Middle East.
The degree of protesting in the Middle East mirrors only slightly to the anti-Vietnam protest movements in the United States in the late 1960s.
Since then, Americans’ voice against our government, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is barely audible and our actions against that which we disagree with are slow and delayed. Perhaps the complacency is because we live in America, a country that is truly great and one that allows her citizens alternatives and options.
In most Middle Eastern countries there are no alternatives. The religion is predetermined, the economy stifles any chance of an opportunity and the autocratic government’s agenda is superior and unchallenged, until now.
Americans therefore view the situations through a filter that keeps out true compassion. We can only hope with earnestness that peace replaces the hostility and that the governments relinquish their tight grip on the people. Only then can social equality, independence and opportunity flourish.
The disconect that many college students experience with the protest movements in the Middle East should not be ignored. Instead, it should spark an interest to study the region and investigate why the protests began and the implications they will have on America and the global community.
There are several resources which can help in this fact finding endeavor. The university subscribes to the New York Times which can be found for free at various news stands throughout campus. Wisconsin Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio, 88.7 and 91.1 respectively, are other ways to get information about the protest movements.