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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Egypt: the clash of the classes

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All they want is democracy and opportunity.

Are the desires of Egyptians so far fetched that their wants are unrealistic? I guess it depends on whom you ask.

If you ask the small portion of the people who run the country and are the wealthiest, their answer would probably be “yes, the desires of most Egyptians are unrealistic.” However, if you ask the rest of the countrymen – the portion that represents the masses, their answer would be a resounding no.

Ask me and my verdict is with the masses.

All the Egyptians want is equality and opportunity. They want a fair chance to provide for themselves and their families. I feel very confident in saying that most of the poverty-stricken people in Egypt are not opposed to working. What they are opposed to is the meager compensation they receive as payment. At least 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

The plight of the Egyptians is so similar to that of the Tunisian man who sparked a revolution in December. After being unable to find a job, this Tunisian man sold fruit on the street. However, his produce was confiscated because he did not have a permit to sell. As a show of demonstration (and probably frustration), the man set himself on fire and died.

Thousands vowed that his death wouldn’t be in vain and they sparked a movement that resulted in their president, Zine Ben Ali, stepping aside.

The Egyptians have followed suit, but their leader doesn’t seem willing to go as easily as Ben Ali. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been in control for more than 30 years. While he has done some noteworthy things during his tenure, he has held power for far too long and he needs to do more than declare “fair” elections from this point forward. Mubarak needs to step aside. But that’s not all. He needs to promise that neither he nor his son will run in the presidential election this year.

The Egypt of today is far different from the Egypt of yesteryear, so the best thing for Mubarak to do for his country is to step aside. President Obama is urging Mubarak to transition out of his position. This would include a fair and transparent election for all legitimate candidates. The election shouldn’t include intimidating factors such as military personnel and it should be overseen by unbiased international monitors. This is the only fair way to ensure true transparency.

I’ve never really understood why leaders want to stay in a position that has obviously run its course. I suppose ego has more to do with it than anything else. Regardless, doing so can not only be disastrous to the people under a particular leader’s control, but also for the leader himself. We’ve all heard of radical instances where the public has taken matters into their own hands relative to “removing” a leader from control.

If Mubarak decides he doesn’t want to heed the words of his people or President Obama, I feel the Egyptians will go into civil unrest and there will be a lot of bloodshed. If he abruptly leaves, but doesn’t have a transition plan in place, then there could very easily be a leadership vacuum. So, Mubarak’s best alternative is to transition out of office in as fair a manner as possible.

It’s important to note that whatever happens in Egypt in the coming days could drastically impact the United States: be it an increase in gas prices or the possible involvement of our military forces.

It seems like so much for us to endure, particularly because things didn’t really have to be this way for Egyptians. If the powers that be would only realize the value that being fair and balanced brings. I don’t blame any of the Egyptian protesters for their actions. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. How much longer could anyone truly expect them to suppress their feelings when the rich continuously got richer and the poor became even poorer?

You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at shannonw@indyrecorder.com.

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