Co-organiser of Kia Ora Gaza
26 January 2011
Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators took to the streets in many cities across their land. In vast numbers they faced down legions of riot police and, in some places, forced the cops into retreat.
Their calls were simple: Down with president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s strongman for 30 years. Bring an end to his reign of torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment.
No protests on this scale have been seen in Egypt for three decades. Now the inspiration of Tunisia’s popular uprising is intersecting with the frustrated anger that has long been simmering among the grassroots.
One Cairo-based reporter, Kristen Chick of the Christian Science Monitor, likened this historic mass outpouring to a dam breaking. The word “revolution” is suddenly on the lips of people who were previously too frightened to speak out.
Of course, Egypt is not Tunisia. Mubarak is powerfully entrenched. He has a wider base of social support and a larger apparatus of social repression than the tinpot dictator in Tunis. The strongman of Cairo will be much harder to depose than Ben Ali.
Even so, the tide of history is starting to run against the Middle East’s dictators, most of them aligned to the West. The popular yearning for decent and democratic societies is beginning to roll back decades of authoritarian rule.
Egypt, easily the most powerful Arab country, has long been the lynchpin ally of Israel and America in the Middle East. For instance, Israel’s siege of Gaza could not last a single day in the absence of Mubarak’s collaboration with Tel Aviv.
So the rising tide of popular revolt in Egypt has the potential for massive ripple effects throughout the region, and indeed the world, given the critical importance of Middle East oil.
Nobody can predict what might happen in Egypt during the days, weeks and months ahead. Yet one thing is sure: for however long Mubarak clings to power, his regime will lack the strength to be a certain and steady ally of the Zionist state and its backers in Washington.
Given these conditions, this year’s international aid convoys to Gaza may well have profound implications on the popular mood inside Egypt and across the Arab world. Positive outcomes which yesterday seemed unlikely may well become possible in the near future.
Kia Ora Gaza, which raised over $100,000 to send a six-person Kiwi Team on the biggest aid convoy to successfully enter Gaza in 2010, has begun fundraising for another convoy contribution this year.
Your donations to Kia Ora Gaza are a concrete way to help both Egyptians and Gazans who have long been oppressed by the partnership regimes in Tel Aviv and Cairo.
Here’s how you can donate:
* Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your deposit details so our Board of Trustees can send you an e-receipt.
* Or write a cheque for ‘Kia Ora Gaza’ and post to: Kia Ora Gaza, PO Box 59-007, Auckland.
And finally, to view The Guardian’s excellent photo gallery of yesterday’s protests across Egypt, click here.