On Monday, we told you about civil unrest in Tunisia. Folks in Egypt are going through it this week too, as they fight for a new level of political freedom.
The politically embattled nation of Egypt — rocked and stunned by an eruption of surprisingly bold street protests this week — is bracing for a major demonstration on Friday.
There was still a smattering of street protesters in Egypt on Thursday after massive public protests on Tuesday and Wednesday calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak convulsed the nation and prompted a tough security crackdown.
There’s been talk of a huge outpouring after Friday prayers, and now two major symbols of opposition plan to make their presence known in the nation.
The Muslim Brotherhood has called for its followers to demonstrate after the weekly Muslim prayers — the first time in the current round of unrest that the largest opposition bloc has told supporters to take to the streets.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian Nobel laureate and opposition leader, is returning home from Europe on Thursday and plans to participate in the big protests.
“I am there to make sure that things will be managed in a peaceful way,” ElBaradei said as he was waiting to leave Vienna, Austria.
“I have to give them as much support, political support, spiritual, moral, whatever I can do, you know,” he said. “I will be with them. They are my people, and I have to be there, and I’d like to see Egypt, a new Egypt.”
The protest movement in Egypt has been fueled by blogs, Twitter and Facebook, and ElBaradei, who is also the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, has been posting messages of support for the demonstrators on Twitter.
In an interview Tuesday on CNN’s Connect the World, ElBaradei disputed a recent comment from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Egyptian government is stable.
“Stability is when you have a government that is elected on a free and fair basis. And we have seen, you know, how the election has been rigged in Egypt. We have seen how people have been tortured,” he said.
The outpouring of protests has led to unprecedented violence this week.
Police turned water cannons and tear gas on protesters Wednesday to try to break up anti-government demonstrations as the Interior Ministry warned it “will not allow any provocative movement or a protest or rallies or demonstrations.”
In the heart of Cairo, people were being beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were being dragged away amid tear gas. Witnesses saw security forces harassing journalists and photographers. Demonstrations continued into the nighttime hours.
In Suez, the state-run Nile News TV reported violent clashes Wednesday night between security forces and protesters.
At least 27 people were wounded, Nile News said, most of them police officers. Quoting provincial officials, the station said most of the clashes took place in the Alarbeen neighborhood and that looters attacked some shops.
The Muslim Brotherhood said 35 people were injured in Suez and that security forces in the city had implemented a curfew there Wednesday night.
Families and friends of people slain in Suez said angry demonstrations occurred because police didn’t hand over the bodies of those killed.
There were at least three demonstrators who died in Suez, and a police officer was killed in Cairo.
The Egyptian government cracked down on Twitter and Facebook today, hoping to somehow limit the chatter they say is fueling the protest. Or maybe as a way to stop the people from talking about the injustice they’re fighting against.
Remember these things still happen in the world the next time you don’t think you need to be involved in the political process. It could just as easily be us.