- January 25, 2011
Egypt Revolution – In the Shadow of Tunisia
is Police Day in Egypt, a commemoration of the resistance by Islamailiya police against the British in 1952 during which 41 were killed.
Ironically, it is also – in 2011 – potentially, the revival of a large anti-government, anti-torture protest. One of the main organizers is the Facebook group for Khaled Said, the victim of police brutality who died last year and became a symbol of torture and repression. Around 80,000 people have pledged to support the initiative online and many are hoping it will be a success.
Anti-government activists in Egypt have also been inspired by the recent political upheaval in Tunisia and have called January 25 a "day of revolt against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment".
But Mubarak’s government has been warning of mass arrests calling its supporters out in a counter-demonstration. Spirits run high in Egypt as the Day of Rage wears on, coming on the heels of weeks of unrest in Tunisia that eventually toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali earlier this month. Hailed as the ‘beginning of the end’ organizers assert that the protests mark the end of silence, acquiescence and submission to what is happening in Egypt . It is the beginning of a new page in Egypt 's history – one of activism and demanding rights.
Protestors are well aware that in taking to the streets they face a tough response from the police, who are known to break up protests with violence.
In a statement, the government's security director in the capital said: "The security apparatus will deal firmly and decisively with any attempt to break the law." And, with the 30-year-old Emergency Law still in force, anyone who takes part in the protests is liable to arrest.
There are many similarities between Egypt and Tunisia that brought about the unrest in Tunisia , including rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption.
One of the main differences between the Tunisia uprising and that of Egypt , is that Egypt boasts a large force of well equipped, highly trained and very experienced riot police. Egypt also has a relatively free press. Ben Ali, the ousted Tunisian dictator did not allow the press freedom of speech due to his repressive tactics. Egypt , on the other hand, uses its press as a sort of early-warning system and it also gives people the chance to voice their protests. In Tunisia it is believed that the army persuaded Ben Ali to leave and it is hoped that perhaps some generals in Egypt are thinking that they, too, might serve their countries by doing something similar.