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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Democalypse Now

 The news sources that our technology has enabled us to access in an instant  is making revolution occurat the speed of tweet. Frustrated by stagnant economies that favour the wealthy, smart minds and troublemakers alike can band together in an instant. In the last year we've witnessed anti-government protests in Canada, one of the world's oldest civilizations become financially bankrupt, and the rise and fall of theocracies all over the planet.  It is going to be a very interesting year to be alive for politic watchers. Heck, it already has been so, and it's still January.

  This month Tunisian president Zine Ben Ali was sent running to Saudi Arabia as his government collapsed. due to civil unrest.Ben Ali acquired his position through an overthrow in 1987. The wealthy nation claimed that it was a modern democracy to allies, but in reality Ben Ali ran an autocratic regime  and used national coffers as a personal bank account. Global exposes of news censorship and politically-motivated incarcerations added fuel to a fire kindled by soaring youth unemployment. Civil unrest became so caustic that Ben Ali announced he was dissolving government and would not be seeking reelection. After protests called for his head, he fled to Saudi Arabia 2 weeks ago.
  Tunisia now has an interim government comprised of various parties and leaders that includes folks incarcerated by the previous regime. Canada has deported all members of Ben Ami's camp and their relatives in solidarity with protesters in Tunisia and Egypt.

  Cue to this week, when the rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has been called into question.  Mubarak scored his cushy job 30 years ago after Anwar Sadat died. Sadat got his job after General Nasser died. Egypt is a modern nation in terms of creature comforts, but it's no beacon of African freedom. Egypt is democratic in name only, with Mubarak imprisoning opponents like Ayman Nour and basing laws on Islamic codes. Add in soaring inflation and government tolerance of violence against religious minorities, and you have fuel for a revolution. 

  Egypt has erupted in protests this week, drawing inspiration from Tunisia and support from people abroad via the internet. The state is showing their true dedication to iron rule, and is treating the unrest like a security issue. Mubarak believes that controlling critics and ignoring the populace will make dissent go away. After all, it's a tactic that has been successful for over 50 years. Mubarek and his allies have essentially eliminated political remedies giving the people no other option than to protest. 

  Naturally, Mubarak's regime believes they're winning; that their elimination of cellular communications and restrictions on internet usage will become tiresome for a people that have never known true democracy. But what if this backfires? What if the people see continued attacks on liberty as just that and unite against Mubarak? Entertain for yourself the idea that Mubarak and his sons are sent packing. People all over the world will start to get the idea that democracy is possible without major international intervention.

  2011 may become the year of the coronation of liberty. For if people in places like Tunisia and Egypt can discover the self-esteem required to force their own emancipation, anyone else can. It's rumoured that Yemen could oust Ali Abdullah Saleh and I'd love to see Qaddafi running from his smoldering tent. 

  We, as free people, need to keep our eyes fixed on the Arab World right now. Ousting an autocracy doesn't ensure democracy. As we've noticed in places like Iran and Pakistan, coups can be used to usher in theocratic regimes that oppress their populations with even more dangerous limitations. As much as we're happy that people are finally sticking up for themselves, we can only hope that the next ayatollah isn't in the making.  We must use the lessons learned to question our own leaders when they use force against protesters and base decisions on their religion. We must continue to be the change we wish to see and give power to those all over the world who are fighting for their right to exist. 

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