Protests have been growing in size and violence
The protests in Egypt have put an unflattering spotlight on the reign of President Mubarak, who has ruled for nearly 30 years. The country has been in a declared 'state of emergency' since 1967, which carries protocols giving its government full censorship power, the ability to detain without reason, and to violate constitutional rights. These actions are carried out and/or protected by the country's police force, a department well-known for the brutal way in which it handles its business.
The Egyptian protests, which are intended on overthrowing the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, have their roots in the revolution that took place in Tunisia as well as something that many wouldn't have expected; internet access.
The Tunisian protests began, in part, due to the government's blocking the leaked cables from 'Wikileaks'. The flashpoint came after a street merchant's confrontation with local police. After having his vegetables seized by authorities, the young man killed himself via self-immolation. The two events served to trigger the protests and upheaval that resulted in the ousting of autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Internet access played an initial role in starting the unrest in Egypt as well. What began as government decisions to block Twitter and Facebook evolved into a total shutdown of internet access. The original reason behind the government shutting down the two social media sites was that they were being used to help with organization and communication by the young protestors. The Egyptian government has also done everything it can to limit cell phone usage, another tool used by protestors to organize, plan, and communicate.
In hindsight, there may be some second guessing by the Mubarak camp on their internet shutdown strategy. While leaving access to the internet and social media sites may have been somewhat inconvenient, the shutdown became another part of the rallying cry for the newly energized protestors.
How it will play out is still up in the air but there are some interesting details that have surfaced which may tie things together a bit. The young people leading the protests across the Middle East want to work and they want a corruption-free government that acknowledges their existence (and they want to be able to Tweet and check out their friends on Facebook at will.