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Time: After Tunisia: Why Egypt Isn't Ready to Have Its Own Revolution

Author: Abigail Hauslohner
January 21, 2011


This Time article argues that despite the initial similarities to the Tunisian revolution, Egypt lacks the educational infrastructure and military sympathy to properly rebel against the government.

Many Arabs across the Middle East are looking to events in Tunisia for inspiration. It is the first of the region's dictatorships to fall at the hands of its own people since 1979 - with no Islamist revolution needed; no U.S. invasion; no inspiring leader, just the mass uprising of a well-educated and disenchanted populace. "A lot of people have been talking about Tunisia," says one 57-year-old Cairo resident who only gave his name as Mohamed. "They had a bad president and the people were sick of him, so they overthrew him. Here, the people are sick too - more so than they were in Tunisia. Eventually here, they're going to do it too."

More than a few people in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, agree with Mohamed. And some even believe the time is now. The Egyptian media has reported half a dozen cases of successful or attempted self-immolation over the past two weeks, all part of a copycat wave that has swept the politically stagnant streets of North Africa since 26-year-old Mohammad Bouazizi, an unemployed computer engineer, set himself on fire and became a martyr for the Tunisian cause.

But in Egypt, it doesn't go much deeper than that. "In Egypt, the prices have been rising for so long that we've grown thick skin," says a shop owner who also identified himself only as Mohamed. "People here are already unemployed, and nothing has happened. Two guys burned themselves because they thought it would have the same impact here as it did in Tunisia. But nothing surprising has happened in Egypt."

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