Category Archives: Constitution

Change for Egypt

Protest in Tahrir Square
Photo by: AlJazeer


Soon after large demonstrations started in Egypt on January 25th, support poured in across Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter for Egyptians seeking freedoms, a better future and asking Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to immediately step down.

Protestors had gathered in Tahrir Square and said they would not leave till Mubarak he had given up his 30 year position as President of Egypt. As time passed, the crowd grew. The numbers following via Facebook and Twitter also grew. (#Egypt #Jan25)

Many of the demonstrators were tweeting and texting directly from their locations and also giving information of what would be going on the following hours and days. In today’s fast-paced Internet world, picture uploading, video uploading, texting, blogging and sharing information is instant and with the world’s changing times, this allows millions of people to know instantly what is going on across the world and to alert others.

Egypt’s government has in its constitution a law, the “Emergency Law” which, among other things, gives the government the right, at its discretion to shut down the Internet and on January 28th, Internet Service Providers were told to cut services.

This “Emergency Law” has been in place nearly all of Mubarak’s time in office. This law is one of many grievances the people have with the Egyptian government and it was recently extended to remain another two years. When the law is enacted, it gives the government the right to arrest people without cause, hold prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly and more. At the time Internet was cut, most mobile phone services also were disabled especially text messaging. This greatly handicapped the ability not only for Egyptians to communicate internationally but also with one another in the country.

Until February 1st, the protestors mostly were peaceful. Tahrir Square remained full of protestors waiting for President Mubarak to step down. News had come that he had sworn in a Vice President which was a first in the country in over 30 years.

However, on the 1st, Mubarak made a speech on State T.V. which played on a large screen for all to see in the square. He stated he would not seek another term as president in the upcoming elections. The people quietly watched his entire speech and closer to the end he stated he would not be willing to step down before the end of his term in September, later this year.

On the ground in Tahrir Square and close by violence grew as the crowd became angry. There became a rise in violence and coverage of this was being shown internationally soon after the world had viewed not only this speech by President Mubarak but also a speech by President Obama on his thoughts concerning the situation in Egypt.

The rise in violence around Tahrir Square grew as pro-Mubarak groups grew larger in the square and clashes between them and the anti-government group became more violent causing a growing number of injuries and fatalities.

The following day as journalists were covering the clashes, they themselves became the targets of violence. They were being harassed, beaten up, having their equipment confiscated, being arrested, vehicles or teams attacked and as this grew increasingly worse, some were forced to leave for their safety and others went into hiding to continue reporting but to protect themselves and their crews.

This same day, Internet service began to slowly return across the country and as this happened, updates from Egyptians started to come in on Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other sources. These updates showed personal accounts of what had been happening around Egypt and confirming an even greater desire for freedom but also confirmed the fact journalists were being targeted on the ground, in hotels and around the country. Egypt’s government, it appeared, did not want the continued coverage of what was going on in the streets of Egypt during this crisis.

The question was, why?

Was the fear this coverage was making Egypt look bad internationally or was the fear the international coverage and the feedback it was getting influencing Egypt’s youth, inciting more displays of protests? Whatever the reasoning, the amount of international journalists in the country was greatly diminishing and those remaining were not being able to cover the revolution on the streets, the people, Tahrir Square up close as they had been doing, they now needed to look out for their safety and cover the crisis from afar.

The fact is though, covering the situation in Egypt is extremely important. It is extremely important to see the crisis and transformation as it unfolds. It’s more truthful and honest to see it from the eyes of the people and the government’s reaction and the angles there in Egypt and to have those views involved.

Egypt’s crisis and this transformation as some view it or revolution as it is turning out to be is not just a small event or something that will soon pass. It is much larger and significant.

Egypt has a population of more than 80 million people, the largest population in the 22 Arabic speaking countries.

Although the overthrow of Tunisia’s president in December ignited many frustrations and long held grievances of the citizens in other countries across the region, eyes are now on Egypt and at the moment, the leaders of Jordan, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere are looking at their own government and making tremendous changes and reforms to try to prevent many of the same actions. Protests are currently taking place.

As for the U.S. and its involvement in this crisis, of course there is a great deal of concern and the crisis in Egypt has great significance to the U.S. We have many Egyptian-Americans living in the United States and many have called this their home for generations but still, Egypt is their home as well. Compassion must always be shown not only to our fellow Americans but, all others.

What would you go to a demonstration for? What freedom would you not be willing to give up?

Much of what the Egyptians are protesting for, Americans not only have but take for granted. Fair elections, presidential term limit restrictions, freedom of speech and assembly and the right these freedoms can’t just be taken away at the whim of the government (like what is currently happening in Egypt and has been over the past 3 decades due to “Emergency Law”).

What is the United State’s position on making Mubarak step down being President?

This is a political revolution of the Egyptian people. They desire freedom and change in the way their country and government functions. Therefore it is up to Egypt and its people to unfold their new political system, laws and government, not outside countries. True change will come from within.

Since Mubarak has been an ally of the United States, there has been communication between Mubarak and President Obama as well as the Administration and other key officials in Egypt. It is important for the U.S. to point out certain views pertaining to matters that does affect the U.S. as well as what effects U.S. citizens in Egypt, humanitarian efforts and the safety of international journalists. The U.S. has remained a close ally with Egypt for many years and as long as diplomatically possible, this is important to continue without forgetting about the rights of the Egyptian citizens.

However, for the U.S. Administration or U.S. Citizens to act as though we can tell another country’s leader to step down does nothing to aide that country or the real long term efforts toward transformation they are working on. It also hurts our diplomacy efforts with other countries and in the long run would hurt our relations with the government that ends up being formed in Egypt. The U.S. cannot see itself as the strong hold over the world.

The best seat for the U.S. to strategically plan for what needs to be done after Egypt’s transition and the actions that follow in Yemen, Jordan, Syria and other neighboring governments may be in the observation area allowing the people of Egypt and its current government to build its own future out of its current turmoil.

Allow them to have change.

America is more than a country Pt. 2

Pt 2 of a series (see previous article)

As the GOP released their “Pledge to America”, many of its statements sounded good but go against what has been being said.

In Politico on August 18, 2010, Indiana’s Republican Rep. Mike Pence thought the Islamic Center in NYC was “not appropriate”, while John Boehner, Republican House Minority Leader called the decision to build the mosque and Obama’s support “deeply troubling,” and Cantor dubbed it “the height of insensitivity.”

Do they know there was a Muslim prayer room on the South Tower’s 17th floor of the World Trade Center? Do they realize there are over 600,000 Muslims living in NYC? Do they also realize there is a place for prayer at the Pentagon and services are held for Muslims multiple times each week? This has gone on without any issues. Why is that? This was also true after the 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center which were carried out by the same type of extremist and took the lives of 6 people and injured 1,042 others. It doesn’t seem the politicians are trying to stop the building of any mosque or back up having it built for any reason other than to win voters. There are people that really do stand on one side or the other in sincerity but there are many others that are standing on the side of hate, discrimination or just standing without reason but doing so because the majority has taken a stand.

America comes first, before campaigning or popularity.

Going back to pledge.gop.gov

“America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.”

The statement is true. In America, a person can be many things if that person is willing to work hard, study hard, has ideas and some ambition. America has been built on these ingredients. This is what attracts so many people to want to come here and start a business, develop an idea or bring their family.

The question is are people able to come here, live here, be free here to raise their children and have a business, become citizens, go to school, practice their religion and truly be free as America and the Constitution says or are those words changing due to politics and fear being driven by a few and voiced over and over to more and more people? Or is that freedom only promised or offered to certain people?

Going back to pledge.gop.gov

Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.”

In November 2008, the country voted to set out on a different course. Prior to that vote, things were completely off course. At that time, the housing market and economic downturn was already being said to have been the worst since the Great Depression. It was termed as the “Panic of 2008”.

In 2008 the majority of voters cast their ballot for change because they obviously wanted something, change.

Barack Obama was not only campaigning about bettering the economy, bringing healthcare to more of the uninsured, adding consumer credit protection, building a higher standard for our country’s declining educational system and its young people’s ability to pay to attend college. He was also campaigning for America and its ability to see within itself the need to achieve greater, expect more and to once again, move forward.

Barack Obama was running for the office of the President of the United States. In November 2008, he was elected into office and in January 2009, he took his position in the White House.

From the beginning of his presidency, he has set out to meet certain goals put forth during his campaign as well as help dig a country out of a turmoil it had sunk into over years of bad management, bad choices and now he was surrounded by onlookers daily wondering why he had no quick fixes. To say President Obama has not accomplished a great deal during his Presidency so far would be completely false. However, there is still a long way the country has to go.

In an interview via telephone from the Clinton Global Initiative this past week, Clinton urged the Democrats to start coming back at the GOP’s claims with facts. Give them statistics and show them exactly what the current administration has done to avert a more severe downturn.

Clinton said, “I think the Democrats ought to stand up and say… You gave them eight years to dig this hole and double the debt of this country and not to produce any jobs, and then to have a financial collapse and all of this calamity. At least give us four to dig out of it. If we’re wrong, throw us all out. But don’t bring back the people that dug the hole.”

Politics 101-Getting to know your government

Where are interesting websites to learn more about past presidents through President Obama? I decided to take a break with the series that I am working on to look up some interesting links on the history of U.S. Presidents as well as the White House. Here are just a few of those links.

Sometimes the best way to get involved is to know more about the subject. Understanding more about the United States’ past presidents and their accomplishments as well as some of their day to day life can possibly open doors to more interest in today’s activities in the local government as well as what goes on in Washington D.C and our 44th President, Barack Obama.

A very interesting website to visit is The American Presidency Project. This is an online resource of documents that go all the back to President George Washington. Documents include Inaugural Addresses, press conferences, executive orders, State of the Union addresses, convention speeches and much more. There’s even a link to find out the word usage in the State of the Union messages and so far, President Obama’s longest message was 7,904 words. President Theodore Roosevelt however had one that was 27,397 words on December 3, 1907. A few of his used near the same amount of words. This is an interesting link and very informative.

Another link, which is often overlooked, to get to know more about the U.S. government is the White House Website. By clicking on the section “our government” there is a large amount of useful information on the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the government. There is an area on the Constitution, Federal Agencies and Commissions. A person can learn more about the elections and voting processes and also about how the state and local government work within their daily lives.

By surfing through the White House website, a person can find information such as daily schedules, statements, history on past presidents, pieces of legislations, different issues on a wide range of topics like energy & environment, health care, veterans, taxes, defense, immigration and much more.

Aside from the President and First Lady, there are also links to learn more about different administration members at the White House. If you’d like to send a message to the White House with comments, suggestions or a message of support, there is a link to do that as well under the “contact us” section. You can also mail a letter to the White House.

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Phone Numbers
Comments: 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461

Of course to learn more about the presidents, politics and Washington D.C., knowing more about the White House itself and its history as well as its day to day functions is certainly important. By visiting the White House Historical Association’s Website, a person can see historical pictures, timelines and facts as well as videos, art images and slide shows. There is even an online classroom section for students and teachers to visit. For teachers there are lesson plans (grades K-12) and students have different links to click on for informative and fun lessons.

For those in Florida, getting to know more about the local state government and politicians as well as what is available through their community and state services and be done by visiting the MyFlorida.com website, a person can find information on public schools, taxes, social security benefits, Veteran’s Affairs, unemployment and more.

For Hillsborough County residents, more detailed information can be found by visiting the Hillsborough County Website to find links from different government agencies like the Sheriff’s Office, the Hillsborough County Court House and the website has many more links to visit. By taking time to go through the links on this website, a person can look for job opportunities through the county and state, file for permits, register to vote or find voting times and locations, pay property taxes, search for public records as well as find links to outside resources and more.

This is only a small amount of websites available to learn more about the local and national government and its history and resources. Understanding how the government works allows people to be involved and therefore be part of making decisions and making a difference.