Arab unrest will end dictatorship in Muslim World?
By Binu Paul, SiliconIndia
Saturday, 29 January 2011, 14:49 IST
Bangalore: A deafening outcry for democracy and human rights is echoing across the Arab world after the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, a popular revolt that gave the people of Middle East a ray of hope against corrupt dictatorships in the Muslim world.
The popular revolt, which began in December 2010 after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze after police confiscated his produce car, has spread to Egypt and Yemen ruled by dictators and backed by the military for years. As a notable point, the demonstrations in Tunis and Egypt were started largely among Internet-savvy, middle-class citizens and are garnering the support of the elite.
President Ben Ali who ruled Tunisia since 1987 was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia (some say with 1.5 tonnes of gold) following the protest. Demanding an end to his 23-year-old regime marked by unemployment, food inflation, corruption, limited freedom of speech and poor living conditions; the revolt notes the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades resulting in scores of deaths and injuries. The protest gathered the support of the elite as well with 95 percent of Tunisia's 8,000 lawyers going on strike on January 6th.
Egypt saw a series of street demonstrations, protests, and civil disobedience acts since 25 January 2011 known as the "2011 Egyptian Revolution or the Youth Revolution". Inspired by the Tunisian uprising, the riots and demonstrations were mainly to protest against the police brutality, unemployment, lack of freedom of speech, corruption, food inflation and poor living conditions under the rule of President Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for almost 30 years and the protestors demand his immediate ouster.
Egypt being a nation where public dissent is rare and demonstrators infrequent, the organizers were able to turn tens of thousands of people to protest mainly through the social media. Following the widespread protests, President Mubarak declared an overnight curfew in the three major cities - Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has been put under house arrest. The Nobel Peace laureate led a protest of thousands in the capital and declared that he is prepared to lead the opposition to a regime change. As the highly influential Muslim Brotherhood joins the protests, political thinkers strongly believe that this revolution will bring in some radical changes in the country. Failing to withstand the pressure, the President has asked his government to resign and said he would quickly appoint a new cabinet.
Yemen saw thousands of protesters marching through Sana, its capital city, demanding an end to the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for more than three decades now. In one of the largest protests seen in recent times, protesters wore pink scarves and pink bandannas and clutched pink placards calling it a 'Pink Revolution'. The chants like 'thirty-two years is enough. Tunisia revolted after 23 years' and 'Look at Tunisia with pride' and 'Yemen has strong people, too' were heard loud during the huge rallies. The demonstrations were largely peaceful and organized.
It is just the beginning and the political analysts strongly believe that this time the Arab world will see some significant changes. Many believe that America's paranoia about Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism has protected these dictators over the years. However, the world is demanding that they open up themselves to reforms and social welfare. Riots and protests are also happening in Algeria and Jordan over high food prices which indicate that only democracy and fair governance can calm the people down.