For those that don’t pay attention to the outside world, here’s a brief timeline of the events in Egypt over the past few weeks. First, know that the current Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, has been in office since 1981.
14 January – The Tunisian President Ben Ali was ousted as a result of rioting by the Tunisian people.
25 January – Riots began in Egypt in an attempt to oust Mubarak, largely due to the success of the Tunisian riots. The Egyptian government began sporadically blocking social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to block communication between protesters.
27 January – Riots continued. The Egyptian government blocked text messaging services. In the evening of the 27, they almost entirely blocked Egypt from internet usage. Also announced were curfew hours for citizens in Egypt’s 3 major cities, which went by practically unenforced.
There have been tens of thousands of people involved in these riots. Police brutality is rampant, and there have been at least 105 deaths (although that number may actually be higher–it’s difficult to tell because of the media ban). The military has been called in to protect various important buildings from being damaged by protesters and looters, although they were not able to save some priceless artifacts and mummies from being destroyed in the Egyptian Museum. 1,000 prisoners have escaped in the chaos as well.
Reasons for the riots include Mubarak’s too-long authoritarian reign, emergency law, political corruption, police brutality, the economic situation, and the bombing of a Christian church on 1 January. Egypt is currently under “emergency law,” and has been since 1967 (except for 18 months in the 80s). Emergency law legalizes censorship, suspends constitutional rights, extends police power, and bans street demonstrations. Economic tensions are present largely because 40 percent of Egyptians are living on $2 USD a day.
For those who want to continue following the events in Egypt, CNN has been providing constant updates online and on their international network.