When the president of Tunisia was forced to flee his country in December because of an uprising against him, many other Middle Eastern countries followed suit with demonstrations against their leaders.
In Egypt, the demonstrations erupted on Jan. 25, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and a new leadership through proper democratic means.
“What is taking place is a popular uprising against an oppressive regime,” first year political science graduate student Luai Allarakia said. “I am concerned because I believe that the people of the region have the right to choose their own leaders without intimidation and violence.”
Allarakia took part in a discussion attended by almost 40 people inside the UC Underground on Tuesday. The discussion was originally planned as a candlelight vigil, but a drop in temperature forced attendees inside.
According to the Al Jazeera website, over one million protestors have gathered on the streets of Egypt.
UH psychology sophomore Eman Radwan knows firsthand how the turmoil has impacted people in Egypt.
“Some of my cousins are protesting on the street,” Radwan said. “Others are standing in front of their houses with the rest of their neighbors to protect their families.”
Radwan said family members have reported that criminals are going around stealing and vandalizing properties as protests take place.
“The police over there are too busy shooting tear gas at innocent protestors to do anything about these criminals,” Radwan said.
Two years ago in Cairo, President Obama extended his hand to befriend Muslims all around the world, hoping to bridge the gap between the East and the West.
Now, however, the US government’s delayed response has made many Muslims skeptical towards Obama. Many, including Allarakia, believe the United States is not doing enough to help the Egyptians bring democracy to Egypt.
“The US has been complicit in backing the Egyptian dictatorship since Anwar Sadat took power (in 1970), and it continues to back and aid Hosni Mubarak, the Obama administration’s public rhetoric aside,” Allarakia said. “The US should call on Mubarak to resign immediately.”
The pressure from these demonstrations and the resulting instability has prompted Mubarak to announce he would not run for re-election in September.
Critics of the announcement are wary that a gradual transition would give him time to transfer power to a puppet government and crack down on opposition.
“The people of Egypt need reform,” mechanical engineering sophomore Amnah Kudia said. “They need a government that is truly by the people, for the people.”