U-M experts discuss unrest in Egypt

Uploaded by UMNewsService on 09.02.2011


Media coverage in the events in each of them have been unusual
and they have been so sustained.
We’ve seen sort of wall to wall coverage on CNN for literally days on
and CNN has got significant bump in ratings out of this.
The effect of this has been an interesting one.
I think that it’s really taking some options off the table for the Obama administration;
it’s not really possible for the Obama administration
to take sort of a very real antique approach to this.
It’s pushed the sort of Egyptian people
front in centre in the mind of the American people.
In a lot of ways this is the first sort if sympathetic lengthy coverage
of the Arab Street that we’ve seen arguably since 9/11.
As a result you end up with a situation where Obama
when he gives his first speech on the Egypt situation
he uses the term the Egyptian people eight times in five minutes.
In enormous demonstrations by the Egyptian people.
So I think it shows sort of a reorientation in opinion
which may in a long run reflect in a reorientation in policy.
Before answering the question it’s important to recognize
what's happening on the ground.
Is that people lead Grassroots movement
made up of all sectors of Egyptian society,
millions of people are taking the streets
demanding democracy and anti-repression and anti-torture and end to state violence
and therefore if people in the United States
really care about democracy in Egypt
then they would support and stand in line with the calls for democracy
that are coming from the ground in Egypt
and their demand is end to the Mubarak regime,
Mubarak step down now.
So what is needed, if people in the United States
to put pressure on the Obama administration,
to participate in pressuring Mubarak to take that step down?
If Mubarak stays we will see a continuation
of what Egyptians have experienced for the past 30 years,
which is a dictatorship, a lack of any freedom of speech,
control of the media, torture, attacks against journalists,
human rights activists.
Been a lot of attention to sort of the role of the new media
in these revolutions sort of across the region.
A lot of people have sort of in a very casual ways that
oh, you know it’s the internet.
But I think there is a sort of a distinction here to be drawn between
the hard news that you can get on the Internet
and what's really changed in the last couple of years
in terms of social media.
What's happening here is that there is a interaction between
where people go to get their entertainment,
where they go to socialize
and where they get their political information.
So it becomes much more of a mass phenomenon
where going to distant blogs and using mass IP addresses
to do that is certainly not max activity.
A call to action set through Facebook
is something that is much more easily spread
to a much larger number of people.
There are many possible scenarios
and at this point it’s still unclear
that people who are on the ground holding down Tahrir square or liberation square
as we speak are calling for a transition government
followed by a Democratic governing system
where every sector of society has equal participation.