Historian and professor of Islamic studies at the University of London’s Birkbeck College, Basheer Nafi, puts the Egyptian protests in the following context:
My feeling is that we are witnessing a second wave of the Arab liberation movement … In the first wave, the Arabs liberated themselves from colonial powers and foreign domination. I think now, the very heart of the Arab world, the backbone of the Arab world, is leading the move towards freedom and democracy and human rights.
If he is right, the background of Egypt’s new Vice President – Omar Suleiman – as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief (for both domestic torture and extraordinary rendition), is probably not going to satisfy the protesters. Or – as Wired succinctly puts it:
Torturers, Jailers, Spies Lead Egypt’s ‘New’ Government.
If he’s right, the authoritarian regimes not only in Tunisia and Egypt, but also in Saudi Arabia, Iran and in other Middle Eastern countries must be terrified. Indeed, even China appears to be censoring news of the Egyptian protests, for fear that it would encourage protests in its own less-than-democratic country.