Minn. (MN) The Professor in the University of Minnesota’s (U of M) Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Ragui Assaad was invited to provide expertise on the latest developments in Egypt, and how these protests were ignited by the economic and political factors.
Thanks in part to the University’s Institute for Advance Study, which hosted the event, Assad has been frequently quoted in the news because of his extensive research experience and studies of politics and economics in the middle east.
The native of Cairo addressing approximately 100 people on Tuesday emphasized that the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, the longest-serving Egyptian ruler since Muhammad Ali Pasha, is a matter of days rather than weeks.
“Essentially my feeling initially is I started feeling euphoric and ecstatic about what is happening in Egypt,” said Assaad. “For the first time in a very long time Egyptians are coming out in large numbers to protest history, to demand democracy, and ouster a dictatorial regime. “
Not only did he emphasize that if these protests continue the country will suffer major economic losses and the shutdown of the internet cost $90 million according to a Western think tank. One of the ideas or questions he elaborated on during his presentation was the reasons for this movement were in part economic or political?
“My answer is both because they’re both strongly intertwined. You cannot really separate the two. You can analyze this and show that there are demographic, economic, political causes for it. But these are very closely connected. “
With these developments rapidly changing everyday, intentional attacks of violence against the press is only escalating the pressures against a long-standing regime.
The organization called the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has carefully documented and provided full detailed report of Mubarak’s intensification to attack the press with violent assaults and detentions. The CPJ Executive Director says the government is orchestrating all of these operations.
“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The systematic and sustained attacks documented by CPJ leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way. With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba.
To illustrate the magnitude of the clashes against the press here are excerpts recorded, according to CPJ:
The Washington Post told CPJ that the paper’s Cairo bureau chief, Leila Fadel, and Linda Davidson, a photographer, were among a number of journalists detained this morning. Their unidentified driver and translator were also picked up, and the driver was beaten. Fadel and Davidson were freed late today, but the status of the driver and translator was unclear.
Corban Costa of Brazilian Radio Nacional and cameraman Gilvan Rocha of TV Brasil were detained, blindfolded, and had their passports and equipment seized, according to Brazilian news accounts. The two were reportedly held overnight without water in a windowless room in a Cairo police station. An officer forced the reporters to sign a statement in Arabic saying they would immediately leave Egypt for Brazil, reports said. “We had to trust what he said, and sign the document, ” Corban said. They said they will be sent back to Brazil on Friday.
The New York Timesreported today that two of its reporters were released after they were detained overnight in Cairo.
Canadian Globe and Mail journalist Sonia Verma tweeted today that she was being taken “into some kind of custody.” She later reported that she was held by the military for three hours.
With all of these events unfolding Assaad did time and time again mention that the longer the president refuses to resign the greater the consequences. He did assert that evening that President Barack Obama and his administration take a strong position in favor of protesters.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S has engaged discussions with Egyptian officials of the possibility of a resignation and installing an interim government. With youth the youth movements igniting this revolt, the Egyptian regime faces unprecedented pressure to leave power and hopefully the country can soon have a peaceful transition.