Standout moments

As the rioting and demonstrations unfolded this past two weeks in Egypt, I was compelled to find up-to-date and accurate information. Our story this week about Bruce and Ellen Ford’s flight from Egypt certainly provides a small amount of insight as to what it was like to have to flee in the face of increasing violence. The Fords decided to seek the safety of Canada, much to their relief and the relief of their families
From the safety of my living room, I wanted to know more of what Egypt was doing, what the ordinary people were doing. Most newscasts were re-running two and three day old film clips and it was becoming increasingly apparent that the commentators knew little of what was really happening. I went on-line to the AlJazeera English television network. They had live coverage of Liberation Square in Cairo and you could see the crowds, the demonstrations, the army tanks and even some of the shooting that resulted in the deaths of dozens and dozens of people.
It was almost Biblical in proportion. One could imagine the cries of Moses when he approached Pharaoh and said “Let my people go.” In this case, instead of the Israelites making the plea, it’s the Egyptian people pleading with today’s “Pharaoh”, Hosni Mubaruk to go, to leave the president’s office and the country.
With 60 per cent of the people under 30 years of age and they having never known another president except Mubaruk, it’s no wonder that the young people want some changes. Many people live on $2 per day. Some on less. There’s starvation, poverty, overcrowded schools and a general lack of opportunity.
The great fear among western nations is that without a strongman like Mubaruk, Egypt will become a radical Muslim state. It may. But one scene from Liberation Square was very telling. At one of the many daily Muslim calls to prayer shown on TV, hundreds of men knelt to pray. At the same time, many thousands simply stood around and watched. The devout Muslims and the extreme Muslims are relatively few in number as made obvious by the split in the crowd.
Certainly devout Muslims are a factor in Egypt but they are far from the majority. It looks as if the majority want a democracy. With the demonstrators using the internet, Twitter, Facebook and traditional media coverage, they may get what they are asking for. Every day, the Egyptian government makes more concessions. The stream of concessions seem simple to us but they are likely very complicated to a government that has ruled for 30 years with an iron fist.
One of the best things that may come out of this demonstration of people power is that with all the different kinds communications we have today, it’s nearly impossible for a strong man regime to totally hide their sins from the people. Hitler rose to power because he controlled the media. In a dictator state, he who controls the media has the best chance to hold power. That’s why, in days gone by, rebels would seize the printing presses, the radio station and the TV stations.
In today’s electronic world, no one person can seize all the cell phones, the I-pods, the I-pads, the computers. They may be able to seize the some of the networks but they can’t shut down communications like the regimes of old could do.
Egypt’s revolution will go down in history as the electronic revolution or the cell phone revolution.
Another telling scene happened many times in Liberation Square. Men were holding a cell phone to their ear in one hand and throwing a rock with the other. Talk about bridging the centuries. In days gone back, all desperate men could hold was rocks, perhaps one in each hand. There’s little doubt which hand carries the most force today. It isn’t the one holding the rock.

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kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247