Comment: Gayoom and Nasir unlikely to face their Mubarak moment

A large screen set up outside the court premises streamed images of historic trial from within, while a banner under it proclaimed ‘O Judge of Judges, you have nothing to fear but God!’

Inside the building which once bore his name, former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak pleaded not guilty to charges ranging from graft to “intentional killing of demonstrators” during the January 25 uprising that toppled his regime.

Lying on a stretcher, inside a specially built cage within the same building where, less than two days before the revolution started he had addressed his security forces whose support he enjoyed during nearly three decades of absolute power – he pleaded not guilty on all charges.

Recordings of his not-guilty plea in Arabic – “I categorically deny all charges” – have reportedly become popular ring tones, and images of the once powerful dictator inside a metal cage are being circulated widely on Internet groups.

Mubarak’s trial marks the first time in recent memory that the leader of an Arab nation – long accustomed to ruling until they die or are assassinated – has been made answerable to his own people for alleged abuse of power.

Over 850 people died in the 18 days of uprising early this year, before he stepped down.

In fact, the presiding Judge asked a lawyer at one point “Could you write down the (victims) names, or will it take hours?”

Even as Mubarak fights charges that carries a possible death sentence if convicted, many would agree that even in the scenario of his being acquitted, the dictator’s fall from grace is complete, and that this trial ultimately only provides catharsis and a warning to his embattled peers elsewhere in the middle east.

Images of his trial may aggravate the situation in Saleh’s Yemen, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria, where authoritarian despots are clinging to power hoping to last through the unabated turbulence of the Arab spring.

It is quite possible that these dictators would blame Mubarak’s current predicament on his softness, and relatively quick exit from power – a mere 18 days after crowds assembled in Tahrir Square. With the stakes now even higher, these regimes might resort to a violent fight to the finish, unless they can be coerced into catching a flight to Jeddah.

At least 1700 civilians are believed to have been killed in Syria since uprisings began, and estimates range between 2000 to 12000 killed in Libya, with no signs of the an end to the rebellion.

While the Mubarak trial holds special symbolic meaning for the Arab people, it also holds some significance in the Maldivian context.

It was, after all, from the halls of Egypt’s Al Azhar University that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom emerged.

When democracy arrived in the Maldives after a prolonged period of public protests, many expected Gayoom to be prosecuted – and his political cronies to be put on trial.

Throughout the democratic uprising, after all, opposition leaders had publicly accused President Gayoom of a wide spectrum of allegations ranging from corruption to torture.

However, Gayoom continues to be a free man, and no charges have yet been brought against him by the first democratically elected government.

It might be that despite the alleged excesses of his former government, Gayoom continues to hold a massive sway over a significant portion of the population, as evidenced by the 40 percent of votes he garnered in the first round of the Presidential polls.

President Mohamed Nasheed has stuck to his stated stand of ‘humility in times of victory’, and while there still remain occasional calls for Gayoom’s arrest from parliamentarians like “Reeko” Moosa, the public attention has long since shifted to more immediate matters of a weakening economy and dollar shortages.

Gayoom’s predecessor, President Ibrahim Nasir had also modeled himself after Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, a modernist with dictatorial tendencies.

After he became the First President of the Second Republic, Nasir was the hero of the Nation’s independence.

However, during his earlier stint as Prime Minister, Nasir’s heavy-handed tactics such as personally leading gunboats to forcefully depopulate Thinadhoo in 1962, in the aftermath of the southern rebellion, has been condemned by many as being especially ruthless.

Nasir never stood trial in a public court. Following Gayoom’s ascent to power, Nasir lived out the rest of his life in exile in Singapore.

Nasir died a few days after the Gayoom regime fell, and was buried with his royal ancestors at the cemetery attached to the hukuru miskiy. Tens of thousands paid him their last respects, and a national holiday was declared in his honour.

He has recently been honoured again by the MDP government, which renamed the Male’ International Airport as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in recognition of his efforts towards building it.

The news of the airport renaming was met with some disappointment by many Huvadhu islanders, some of whom still remember Nasir as the man who tore their families apart. Sounds of gunfire are still fresh in their memories.

Humiliating scenes of men being forced to step off their islands, supervised by the political strongman himself, continue to persist on the Internet.

It is increasingly likely that the alleged crimes and corruption of Gayoom and Nasir will never face their Mubarak moment. Furthermore, the government has so far given no indication of making a even a symbolic public apology for the southern outrage that was Thinadhoo.

While Mubarak’s trial assuages some of Egypt’s hurt and brings hope to rebels in the Middle East, it reopens some old wounds for many Maldivians, who feel justice has been denied to them.

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Mubarak appears in court charged with killing protesters, corruption, waste of public funds

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appeared in an Egyptian court on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of demonstrators during the popular uprising that led to his ousting in February.

Mubarak, who had exiled himself to a Red Sea resort in Sharm el-Sheikh, was wheeled into the defendant’s cage on a hospital stretcher flanked by his sons Alaa and Gamal, in a courtroom in a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo that once used to bear his name above its door.

The 83 year-old was accused by the prosecutor of authorising the use of live ammunition for crowd control and intentionally killing peaceful protesters, 850 of whom died during the riots.

The first Arab leader to stand trial for his response to the Arab Spring was also charged with corruption and wasting public funds, and abusing his power to amass private wealth. Early forensic accountancy reports aired in the UK press suggested this could be as high as US$70 billion, while the Washington Post subsequently reported that including cash, gold and other state-owned valuables the amount could well reach US$700 billion – US$200 million more than Egypt’s GDP.

Mubarak spoke little as the charges were read out, only stating “I entirely deny all those accusations.”

The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported that Mubarak’s lawyer Farid el-Deeb, who is among Egypt’s most famous and known for both his “exquisite politeness” and “snappy dressing”, intends to present 1600 witnesses to the court.

Judge Ahmed Refaat of the fifth district of the Cairo criminal court, who is presiding over the case, meanwhile “has a reputation as Mr Clean and a track record of judging politically sensitive cases”.

Egypt meanwhile remains under the control of a military council led by a former defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who has promised a transition to democracy and has kept a low profile despite continuing protests in Cairo’s Tahir Square.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, was the highest profile victim of the Arab Uprising, a series of mass protests across the Arab World that has seen the fall of many long-serving dictators, including Tunisian President Ben Ali, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and potentially, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. President Bashir of Sudan has announced he will not seek another term, as has Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq.

Widespread killing of demonstrators continues in Syria, with more than 2000 deaths reported so far. Libyan casualties have surpassed 13,000 as Muammar Gaddafi clings to power despite months of NATO bombings.


Mubarak may face execution as protests and violence continue to engulf region

Egypt’s former president may face execution over allegations he ordered the killing of demonstrators opposed to his rule, while Syrian security officials have reportedly violently suppressed thousands of anti-government protesters as political unrest continues to rock the Middle East and North Africa.

Syria, along with a number of nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia have all reportedly witnessed surges in anti-government activism in recent months as political unrest has spread through the region leading to demonstrations against their respective rulers – all to varying degrees of success.

The BBC reported yesterday that security forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad have continued to crack down on protests during a “month of unrest”. Amidst this political landscape, news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) revealed that Egypt’s currently detained former leader Hosni Mubarak could stand trial and face the death penalty over suspicions that he ordered the murder of activists opposed to his rule.

The AFP cited reports in local state-owned media that prominent figures in Cairo’s Appeals Court had claimed that the execution of the former president could be possible if he was convicted of having a role in murdering protestors who stood against his rule at mass demonstrations across the country before Mubarak eventually stood down in February as activism intensified.

According to the report, the head of the country’s Appeals Court said that if testimony by Habib al-Adly, a interior minister serving under Mubarak, implicating the disposed president in approving the shooting of some protestors proved to be true, he too could face a custodial sentence or execution.

Media reports suggest that up to 800 people are thought to have been killed during a wave of protests before Mubarak was finally toppled. However, further protests in the country has thought to have been averted by authorities following the detention of Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal over alleged links to violent suppression, the AFP reported.

Meanwhile, Syrian authorities have also been charged with violently suppressing it citizens, with the BBC reporting have been some of the largest-scale protests yet seen in the country calling for an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the news agency, tear gas and batons were used by authorities to repel protestors that reportedly had gathered in their thousands in Damascus to continue to demand al-Assad’s resignation despite his attempts to make “some concessions” to his rule.

State media reportedly confirmed that small demonstrations had taken place across the country without the intervention of security officials, the BBC added.

In its own coverage of the protests, Al Jazeera reported that some witnesses in Damascus claimed that some 15 buses full of secret police had been drafted in to try and quell protests, while plain clothes-armed men were reported to have surrounded protestors gathered outside the Salam mosque in the city’s Barzeh district.

The news agency added that protests carried out against the government elsewhere in the country such as Baniyas, Latakia, Baida and Homs appeared to have gone ahead peacefully.

Reuters reported that unrest was also continuing elsewhere in the region this week with hundreds of Shias protesting around the Saudi Arabian region of Qatif to demand the release of prisoners they claim to have been held without a trial on political and religious grounds.


Mubarak’s fall sparks regional discontent

Ripples from the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunsian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali have spread to other countries in the region, including Jordan and Algeria.

Mubarak, who was in power for 30 years, finally gave in after weeks of protests and stepped down from the presidency, handing power to an interim military government on Friday.

The revolution has not only affected him politically. On Friday, Swiss authorities announced they were freezing assets belonging to Mubarak and his family, pressuring the UK to do the same. Mubarak is thought to have a personal fortune of US$70 billion stashed across various bank accounts and property holdings all over the world.

That the people of one of the Middle East’s largest, oldest and most populated countries could not only overthrow but seek justice against a 30 year autocracy has sparked a wave of political dissent in the region.

Prior to Mubarak’s departure, several thousand demonstrators clashed with police in Algiers after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ordered a ban on protests. 400 were arrested, and then later released, while five people have been reported killed in the protests since they started in January.

Yesterday, the Algerian government shut down the internet and deployed 30,000 riot police – paralleling Mubarak’s early reaction to the protests in Egypt.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad did the opposite, unblocking access to the social media websites Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Youtube in an effort to mellow rising discontent, as well as offering US$400 million in fuel subsidies to the poor. Libyian President Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi has earnestly launched a house-building scheme.

In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as announced he will not stand for a third term and is reportedly to be desperately trying to combat the city’s electricity outages with the installation of three giant generators.

King Abdullah of Jordan sacked the country’s government late last month in a bid to head off a repeat of the Egyptian uprising, announcing a deal with the political opposition sanctioning political and economic reform.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported one senior western official as saying “there has been an awakening of political awareness among the young who have been waiting for solutions that have never come and are not really in the menu now. They are saying: ‘Why should we carry on like this?’”


World reacts to resignation of Egypt’s Mubarak

The rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak officially ended today with the former leader granting state control to the country’s military, months short of the 30 year anniversary since he first came to power.

The BBC reported that the former president finally conceded to weeks of mass protests in the country with his resignation, which was officially announced on state television by Vice-President Omar Suleiman who claimed that the country was now in control of the high command of Egypt’s armed forces.

“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he was reported as saying.

The resignation was welcomed by Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, who claimed that the apparent end of President Mubarak’s rule, allegedly linked to widespread corruption and human rights abuses, was part of a wider wave of democratic change taking place across the Arab world.

Amidst potential fears from some Western powers over the impacts such political changes could have on regional stability, Nasheed called for strong support for democratic reform in nations like Egypt.

“The right not to be tortured, the freedom to speak your mind, the ability to choose your own government… these liberties are not the preserve of Western nations but universal values to which everyone aspires,” he said

Press reports from around the world have focused on the likely fallout that the resignation of Mubarak, who had faced almost three weeks of solid protests against his rule by hundreds of thousands of his fellow Egyptians, could have both regionally and internationally.

British Newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, reported that the resignation has been praised by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the dawning of a “new Middle East” – drawing parallels with his own country’s 1979 revolution.

“It’s your right to be free. It’s your right to exercise your will and sovereignty,” he said.

Ahmadinejad reportedly told crowds in Tehran that Mubarak’s departure was likely to bring major changes to global politics.

“In spite of all the (West’s) complicated and satanic designs … a new Middle East is emerging without the Zionist regime and US interference, a place where the arrogant powers will have no place,” he said.

US President Barack Obama is also today expected to welcome the resignation of his Egyptian counterpart, according to press reports.

The financial world was not immune to Mubarak’s resignation, with news service Reuters reporting that the US dollar has posted a rise in value against the euro recovering from a “brief dip” spurred by fears over oil supply resulting from the former president’s departure.

Reuters’ reporters within Egypt have said that uncertainty remains alongside the optimism of protestors in Tahrir Square, Cairo, with senior members of the political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, claiming a victory for the Egyptian people as it awaits the next action from the higher military council presently in charge of the nation.


Maldivian President joins calls for Mubarak to step down

President Mohamed Nasheed has joined the first wave of world leaders calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down and “heed the will of the Egyptian people,” after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets and demanded the end of autocratic rule.

“Egypt is a mature country. It contains many reasonable people who are capable of ruling reasonably,” President Nasheed said, during an interview with the BBC yesterday.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has warned Mubarak that his actions now would determine his legacy.

“Mr Hosni Mubarak: I want to make a very sincere recommendation, a very candid warning… All of us will die and will be questioned over what we left behind,” Erdogan said, in a party speech broadcast in Arabic and reported by Reuters Africa.

“As Muslims, where we all go is a two cubic metre hole,” he said. “Listen to the shouting of the people, the extremely humane demands. Without hesitation, satisfy the people’s desire for change.”

Mubarak has meanwhile offered to step down at the next election, during an appearance on Egypt’s state-run television network.

“In the few months remaining in my current term I will work towards ensuring a peaceful transition of power,” Mubarak said. “I have exhausted my life in serving Egypt and my people. I will die on the soil of Egypt and be judged by history.”

However, demonstrators have called for Mubarak’s immediate departure, given the extraordinary expression of public anger taking place in the country.

Egypt’s opposition leader, Nobel peace laureate Mohamed El Baradei, yesterday noted that demonstrators were increasingly calling for the President to not just resign but be put on trial, and urged him to leave at once “if he wants to save his skin”.

In another development, after initial prevarication US President Barack Obama appears to have withdrawn support for the Egyptian leader, praising the protesters and calling for an immediate transition of power following a 30 minute conversation with Mubarak.

The US has been a key ally of the embattled Egyptian President, pumping US2$billion of aid in the country annually since 1979. Much of this – US$1.3 billion in 2010 – is military aid, mostly Pentagon castoffs, making Egypt the second largest such recipient of US military assistance after Israel. This has seen a good deal of public anger aimed at the US within Egypt.

Mubarak’s other public allies – Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia – have been noticeably silent since the protests began.

Remarkably, the Egyptian military appears to have turned on Mubarak, stating publicly on state media that it would not obey orders to use force against the protesters.

“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper has published a leaked confidential cable between Washington and the US Ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, sent on December 30, 2008, outlining conversations with an unnamed “activist” concerning “regime change” in Egypt prior to the elections in September 2011.

“According to [the source], the opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections. [The source] asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be written down,” the communication revealed.

“[The source] asserted that Mubarak derives his legitimacy from US support, and therefore charged the US with ‘being responsible’ for Mubarak’s ‘crimes’,” wrote Scobey.

“He accused NGOs working on political and economic reform of living in a ‘fantasy world’, and not recognising that Mubarak – ‘the head of the snake’ – must step aside to enable democracy to take root.”

Scobey, however, did not appear optimistic about the source’s chances of success, describing its goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections as “highly unrealistic”.

“Most opposition parties and independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible, incremental reform within the current political context, even if they may be pessimistic about their chances of success. [The source’s] wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside this mainstream of opposition politicians and activists,” Scobey wrote.

In his interview with the BBC, President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed called on Western powers “not to fear a democratic Egypt”, because this, he claimed, “is the best guarantor of fundamental liberties and human rights.”

“Suppressing people with extremist views through repressive means only makes them stronger,” he said.

“Fundamental rights and freedoms are human aspirations… things that all of us want. These forces are playing out on the streets of the Middle East today.”

The Maldivian government has asked Maldivians in Egypt to leave the country as protests escalate. Haveeru reported that 107 Maldivian nationals were leaving the country today on an Indian flight va Mumbai, arranged by the government.


Arabs: The masters of their fate

Just two weeks ago, the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak seemed as firm and immovable as the great timeless pyramids that symbolise his country of Egypt.

Today, the whole world is watching in suspended disbelief as tens of thousands of Egyptians openly defy Mubarak’s security forces – ignoring curfews, braving tear gas shells and water cannons, and tearing down giant posters of the powerful dictator that ruled over them for 30 years.

In parts of Cairo, law enforcement has melted away before the protestors, and the army has been called in to wrest back government control as Mubarak faces the largest public uprising since the Egyptian monarchy was overthrown in 1952.

Meanwhile, a sudden clamour for freedom is also posing serious challenges to despotic regimes elsewhere in the Arab world.

This unlikely revolution began with a humble Tunisian fruit-seller, Muhammad Al Bouazizi who, in desperation after policemen took away his wooden cart, doused himself in petrol and struck a match that would ultimately set the whole Arab world ablaze.

In the ensuing outrage, citizens rose up in revolt in Tunisia leading to an ignominious end to the 23 year old autocratic regime of President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian president fled to Saudi Arabia with his family and close colleagues, where a Royal palace in Jeddah has reportedly been opened up to accommodate them.

A fascinating phenomena observed in this revolution is the manner in which a suppressed nation, long accustomed to arbitrary apprehensions and torture, could suddenly be overwhelmed by a single incident of tragedy – one moment of injustice that sent tremors throughout the population, leaving them seemingly immune to both pain and fear, as they took on a powerful, oppressive machinery.

The story is one that is intensely familiar to Maldivians. In 2003 the beating to death of Evan Naseem, an inmate of the Maafushi prison, sparked the first widespread riots in Male’.

As the unrest spread across the country, President Gayoom imposed a State of Emergency for the first time. However, it did little to bottle the popular grassroots revolution that successfully led to a new democratic constitution being adopted in 2008.

Egypt, on the other hand, has officially been in a State of Emergency since 1967, except for a brief 18-month period in 1980 and 1981; the Emergency was last extended by 2 years in May 2010.

Over 17,000 people are detained under the Emergency law in Egypt, and an estimated 30,000 political prisoners exist in the country. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, by far the most popular organised opposition party, has been branded a terrorist organization and remains banned in Egypt.

Surprisingly, even the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be struggling to catch up with the current mass protests that remain largely leaderless, but unabated in strength despite a death toll approaching 90.

For five whole days after the protests first started, no senior state official made a public appearance – an indication that the government was grappling with a response to the quickly unfolding revolution on the streets.

When Mubarak finally addressed the public in a pre-dawn speech aired on National television, it was with an air of hubris that characterises the 82 year old despot – he refused to budge, and sought to shift the blame to his nominal government cabinet, which he promised to replace by Saturday.

These actions are unlikely to satisfy the Egyptian protestors, and there might be more confrontation as Egypt prepares to flex its military muscle.

Another country living in a state of Emergency since 1992 is Tunisia’s giant neighbour, Algeria. In the aftermath of Tunisia’s successful revolution, protests have broken out all over Algeria – the largest uprising in two decades in a country that has witnessed a series of smaller protests in recent years.

Thousands of demonstrators have also poured out onto the streets of Sana’a in Yemen, the poorest of all Arab countries, where half the population lives under $2 a day, that nevertheless spends 40 percent of its state budget on maintaining its military force – the second largest in the Arabian peninsula after Saudi Arabia. President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has been in power for 32 years; he also controls and heads the powerful military.

Indeed, the military has often been referred to as the backbone of Middle Eastern dictatorships. It has been the final instrument of power for several despots – notably illustrated by the fact that all four Egyptian Presidents since the overthrow of the monarchy have been military figures.

Hosni Mubarak’s grip on power may now depend entirely on the loyalty of the Egyptian military – the tenth largest in the world – of which he is the Commander-in-Chief.

It would be a loyalty well-earned, for Mubarak has spent generously on his armed forces; of the $1.55 billion aid granted by the US in 2010, $1.3 billion was spent on the military. Egypt is the second largest recipient of US military aid after Israel.

A leaked cable from the US Embassy in Cairo, nevertheless, suggests that the Egyptian military has gotten weak and fractious over the years.

While many analysts had deemed it unlikely for the military to side with the protestors, it is noted that the military prevented police from firing on demonstrators on Saturday – and soldiers could be seen publicly fraternising with demonstrators at the Ramses square in Cairo. The decision of the military could indeed decide the course of events in Egypt.

A loyal armed force helped the Iranian government crush the largest mass demonstrations since the Islamic revolution, in 2009. The pro-democracy movement, also known as the Green movement, threw up some vivid images of protestors trampling over posters of Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Club-wielding basij, a volunteer militia owing allegiance to the Ayatollah and the Revolutionary Guard, raided University campuses and broke up crowds while armed forces shot civilians in the street. Eighteen months later, the Iranian resistance appears to have been overcome.

On the other hand, intervention from the military saved the Tunisian revolution. The military refused to obey President Ben Ali’s orders to fire upon protestors, and reportedly even deployed army helicopters to protect demonstrators from government snipers positioned on rooftops. General Rachid Ammar, the head of the Tunisian military, also declined to occupy the newly vacant seat of power.

Winds of change are already blowing through the streets of a jubilant Tunisia, as the caretaker government has released hundreds of political prisoners, and vowed to lift restrictions on Islamist and Communist parties that were banned under the former regime.

It might be premature to say if this marks the beginning of a domino effect reminiscent of the serial collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Tunisia might very well be the Arabia’s answer to Poland, whose example led to a series of revolutions across Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, ultimately leading to the collapse of a once mighty Soviet empire.

The shared nature of Arab grievances and their mutual solidarity was strongly visible. Thousands of protestors in Amman, the capital of Jordan, were heard chanting “Egyptian nation, our beloved, your redemption is near!”

Protestors in Cairo carried Tunisian flags, a symbol of hope for a region that has for decades been plagued by corrupt, autocratic and oppressive regimes propped up and armed by rich Western interests; a region where many citizens have never experienced political freedoms.

Speaking to BBC radio, an Egyptian blogger reiterated that “All they’re asking for is for their voices to be heard, for their dignity to be respected and to have a humane life, and to have political freedom.”

Egypt, being the region’s foremost cultural, intellectual and political hub, will likely set an example for people in other countries like neighboring Libya, whose citizens have been living under the dictatorial rule of Muammar Al-Gaddafi for 42 years.

In the words of Victor Hugo, ‘One can resist the invasion of armies, but one cannot withstand an idea who time has arrived’.

Clearly, the time for change has arrived for Tunisia, and hope exists that Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and other Middle Eastern dictatorships will be dismantled and see the power returned to the people.


ElBaradei vs Mubarak in Egypt: Speigel interview

Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei is challenging Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for nearly three decades.

“The decisive moment was my return to Cairo in February. I really only wanted to visit my country again and spend a few weeks at my house here near the pyramids. But then, 1,500 people were standing there at the airport,” says ElBaradei in an interview with Speigel Online. “It was a cross-section of our society: students, business people, workers and surprisingly many women, including Egyptian women with head scarves and veiled faces. Some called out: “This country must be changed, please help us make that happen!” Others held signs reading: “ElBaradei for President!” It electrified me.”

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