After days of protest, Egypt’s civil unrest came to a head today, with protestors defying curfews as the nation’s military entered the streets. If you’re new to the story, here’s what’s going on.
Protests started on Tuesday, January 25, when — inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia — thousands of people began taking to the streets to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for thirty years. These were the first protests on such a large scale to be seen in Egypt since the 1970s. The government responded by blocking Twitter, which was being used by organizers to coordinate protests.
Blocking Twitter not only enraged Egyptian citizens; it also brought increased national attention to the uprising. Over the course of the next two days, Egypt proceeded to block Facebook while the much-hated riot police took to the streets, arresting and injuring hundreds with batons, tear gas water cannons. Protests occurred not only in Cairo, the capital, but also in Alexandria and Suez, two other major cities.