For thirty years, the leaden hand of Hosni Mubarak has lain heavy upon the people of Egypt, crushing their hopes for freedom, justice and an end to the poverty that afflicts most of the citizenry. At 82, Mubarak is no longer physically robust, but his government has been no less repressive than it was in his prime, and opposition groups have been squelched without mercy. And, although former International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei has recently begun to mount a potential electoral challenge, it is unclear whether Mubarak intends to leave office or run for another six-year term as president; further, if and when Mubarak does retire, indications are that he has groomed his son, Gamal, for the office and hopes to pass it on within the family.
Revolution, day two: Protesters burn tires in Cairo,
26 January 2011.
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But even in Egypt, times change. Today, thanks to recent events in Tunisia, people across North Africa sense a shift in the prevailing political winds, and they are beginning to say “kifaya”: “enough.”
Will Egyptians be able to restore to the people control of a nation long dominated by colonizers and postcolonial kleptoplutocracies? This is far from clear. But now, for the first time in many years, there is hope, there is a leavening of optimism, and even Mubarak must know that his rule may not, after all, be an immutable condition of Egyptian life.
Originally published as a review of a 26 January 2011 BBC report on protests in Egypt