The response of the Egyptian people seems to be running the gamut, and there have even been reports of both Muslims and Christians participating. The rioting was apparently inspired by the Tunisia uprising, and fed up Egyptian citizens are deciding that they’ve had enough of, “unemployment, poverty, corruption and the lack of freedom under (President) Mubarak,” according to a www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/28/us-egypt-protest-idUSTRE70O3UW20110128 article on Friday.
Mubarak has ordered the Egyptian military to back the Egyptian police, but some in the military have decided to side with the rioters in assistance of the demands for Mubarak to step down and elections take place for a new government. A Reuters witness said that, “Some 2-3,000 people thronged around a military vehicle near the central Tahrir square in downtown Cairo. They climbed on it, shaking hands with the soldiers, and chanted: ‘The army and the people are united’ and ‘The revolution has come.'”
State television is announcing that, “According to what some provinces witnessed in terms of riots, lawlessness, looting, destruction, attack and burning of public and private property including attacks on banks and hotels, President Hosni Mubarak decreed a curfew as a military ruler.”
In an attempt to thwart the rioting, Egypt’s government has intercepted most internet connections into their country, especially social networking sites where much of the organizing for the riots has been taking place. They have also taken eight leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group into custody, claiming that the organization is responsible for organizing the nation’s youth and empowering them to riot. About two-thirds of Egypt’s 80 million population are under 30 and jobless, and 40 percent of the overall population lives on about $2 per day. According to www.cnbc.com/id/41311587 on Friday, cell phone providers in Egypt have been ordered to suspend their services in some places.
Of some military personnel who haven’t defected, Reuters reports that, “Snatch squads of plain clothes security men dragged off suspected ringleaders. At the Fatah mosque in central Ramses Square, several thousand people were penned in and tear gassed.” Apparently some extremist groups are taking advantage of the civil unrest wherever possible.
As for how others have decided to express their demands for a new government, some held signs that read, “Everyone against one” while chanting “Peaceful peaceful peaceful, no violence.” There are also others on the outer edges of the city who are interceding on behalf of their country.
While the rest of the Arab world seems to be watching with a wary eye, Iran sees the Egyptian uprisings as something of a glorious event, giving it a great deal of coverage and, ” painting the demonstrators as heroic and giving headline treatment to voices predicting the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak,” according to cnsnews.com/news/article/iran-sees-revolution-its-rival-egypt on Friday. Perhaps part of the reason for that is because of the of the positive relations between the US and Mubarak, and because Egypt has a treaty with Israel.
According to a live Aljazeera.net feed the present situation could become an opportunity for the Egyptian army to present whether it is going to stand with citizens and act as their protector or not. The people, however, have a mindset of victory – that they are going to win and force Mubarak out of power.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs released a statement explaining that the National Security Advisor, Egyptian Ambassador Margaret Scobey, the State Department and others in the government have briefed Obama on the situation, but Obama and President Mubarak have not yet spoken. Gibbs pointed out that “This is not about picking a person or picking the people of a country…We’re deeply concerned about the images and events that we see in Egypt today. We are monitoring those events closely. The security personnel in Egypt need to refrain from violence — protesters should refrain from violence as well.”
He added that “We think that the government needs to turn the internet and social networking sites back on.”
Gibbs also highlighted the need for the Egyptian government to take the time to encourage “meaningful dialogue that addresses very legitimate grievances” without using violence. He insisted that the outcome will be decided by the Egyptian people.
Gibbs wouldn’t give a direct response to a question asked regarding whether he thought the revolution would spread across the Middle East.
Obama has not yet spoken to other allies about the situation, but Gibbs said that there is “another higher levels principles meeting” scheduled for Saturday.