"Enough is enough. Things have to change, and if Tunisia can do it, why can't we?"—Mamdouh Khayrat, 23, protesting the government of Hosni Mubarek in Cairo.
The pictures coming out of Egypt today are stunning (and speak to the way revolution spreads like wildfire). The "day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment,” organized largely on Facebook, intentionally coincided with a national holiday honoring police.
Judging from the scenes on video, the police do not look honored. The expressions on the faces of the protesters, however, say a lot—if nothing else, that the demonstrations are of of an intensity that the state is not used to dealing with. The police are scared, and obviously unable to enforce their order to "arrest any persons expressing their views illegally." (Since Egypt has laws against holding mass gatherings without a permit, that’s pretty much everybody there.) They are reportedly using water cannons and tear gas to quell the demonstration.
It’s too early to tell where this is headed. Will the result be something like what happened in Iran last year? Great international news coverage, but little actual change, apparently, after state forces regain control of the streets? Or like Tunisia—where a president has fled, and a new government has assembled, but where protests continue? Hosni Mubarek has held power for 30 years, enjoying a longstanding role as a favored Western ally among the always tumultuous Middle Eastern states.
There are mass demonstrations on the streets of Lebanon today, too. Eventful times.