Obama pressures Mubarak to Step Down


I was teaching my last class of the day and we decided to check the New York Times to see if there was any news about Egypt.  We saw a stunning headline (it’s since been replaced — this story is moving so quickly):

The president had not taken a position yet, and had been saying neutral things.  Now that the leader of the Free World has “urged” President Mubarak to not run again, that headline has morphed into this one:

I sort of wonder whether President Obama read Nick Kristof’s column urging him to support the people of Egypt.  Kristof concluded by writing:

Our equivocation isn’t working. It’s increasingly clear that stability will come to Egypt only after Mr. Mubarak steps down. It’s in our interest, as well as Egypt’s, that he resign and leave the country. And we also owe it to the brave men and women of Tahrir Square — and to our own history and values — to make one thing very clear: We stand with the peaceful throngs pleading for democracy, not with those who menace them.

Equivocating is exactly what the U.S. had been doing.

Now that President Obama has made a decision, it’s not going to be popular all over the world.  In Israel, for example, here’s a negative reaction:

(article source is the Reuters news agency)

And now (5:15 p.m. North Carolina time, so midnight in Egypt), here’s the more definitive NYT headline, reflecting that President Mubarak isn’t just saying he won’t run — he definitively will not run.  But as the sub-head asks: Will that be enough for the protestors?  Or will they continue to protest until he leaves office?  We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

Here’s a similar sentiment at the Washington Post:

Note here that Mubarak seems to want to stay in power until a successor is chosen.  Will that be okay with the people who are protesting?

And did you notice that the President of Jordan has fired its Prime Minister in response to protests by the people of Jordan?  (If not, why did you not see that I circled it in RED?)  🙂

I heard a story about Jordan’s protests on NPR on my drive home from school today.  The story does not seem to be on NPR yet, but here’s a clip from the NPR web site now:

source: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/01/133402821/jordans-king-fires-his-cabinet-amid-protests

These protests really are spreading — Tunisia, Egypt, and now Jordan.  And if you count the South Sudanese election as people rising up (I do — and I hope Khartoum, the government in the North of Sudan, does allow the South to go peacefully), that’s four. 

It’s no surprise that China has blocked the news of these uprisings using its Great Firewall of China.  Here’s an article:

Source: BBC World Service

So how exactly does China “block” a search for Egypt?  Well, when you search for Egypt, you get a message that says: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results are not shown.”

Why is China doing this?  Well, if even a fourth of the 1.3 billion people in China were to similarly rise up and demonstrate for reforms of the Communist Party, that would be more than 325,000,000 people.  Keep in mind that the ENTIRE US population is just over 310 million.  I wonder how many people in China have Facebook accounts these days…

I just did a quick web search, and the official number is ZERO:

… despite its rapid ascent in much of Asia, Facebook remains banned in the region’s most crucial market: China.

Asia’s largest social network isn’t Facebook. It’s RenRen, virtually unknown in America despite its 150 million Chinese users. (Facebook claims roughly 145.7 million U.S. users.) Unlike Facebook, RenRen and other Chinese-language networks are Chinese owned and subjected to communist party oversight.

“Facebook isn’t going to break into China anytime soon,” Crampton said. “Historically, the Chinese government is uncomfortable with any social media used in China but owned by foreigners.” Unblocking Facebook, he said, would require conceding to communist party controls under “some model no one has ever used.”

source: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/china/110110/facebook-growth-asia

The part I made purple above makes sense — the Communist party does not want people networking without their say-so.

What a fascinating story.  And keep in mind that this is also quite a dangerous and deadly story — I’d read reports yesterday that around 100 protestors had been killed in Egypt in clashes with the government.  I wonder if I can find an updated figure…  Looks like 300 killed, according to the United Nations (see quote below). 

I hope that number does not go up in the coming days.  I’ll keep following this story as it evolves.

Geneva – The United Nations human rights chief said Tuesday there were unconfirmed reports that an estimated 300 people may have been killed so far in Egypt.

Praising the popular revolt in Egypt, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said she was deeply alarmed by the sharp rise in casualties over the past few days.

“Casualties have been mounting on a daily basis, with unconfirmed reports suggesting as many as 300 people may have been killed so far, more than 3 000 injured and hundreds arrested,” a statement from Pillay read.

Thousands of protesters thronged the streets around Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Tuesday for the eighth day of anti-government demonstrations.

source: http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/300-killed-so-far-in-Egypt-protests-20110201


About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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