Campus News

Egypt protests produce mixed reactions

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Shots rang out, Molotov cocktails were thrown, and protesters  battled in the streets of Cairo, leaving at least three dead and many more wounded. The protesters want President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for 30 years, out of office, while he refuses to relinquish his power. The protesting began last Tuesday as nearly 20,000 came to Cairo seeking to overthrow Mubarak. Mubarak has said that he will not be seeking another term of office in September, but this has not appeased the crowds. Now, after several attempts to make peace, pro-Mubarak demonstrators have fought with the anti-Mubarak protesters for a week, and no light at the end of the tunnel is clearly in sight. The responses at Bethel College vary. “The situation in Egypt is one that reminds me greatly of riots that I have read about in history books,” said Barbara Brutt, a junior at Bethel College. “We like to think that we have come so far with our tolerant discussions and compromises. However, we haven't.” The Egyptian army has come in to handle the uprising, as thousands broke curfew and stayed to protest Mubarak’s presidency. Tens of thousands have lined the streets in Tahrir square to tell Mubarak to leave. Others support Mubarak. “My first reaction is that he needs to step down, but that’s easy for me to say,” said Denis Kurmanov, a freshman at Bethel, “I’m curious why this is starting now. I’m curious about who’s behind it all. I like the nuts and bolts of things. I thought ‘Why Egypt?’ In my mind they’re so stable.’” The responses about what the role of the United States should be in this situation were also varied. “I think the United States should stay out of it at this point,” Brutt said, “We seem to always like to stick our finger into messes. Already we have been putting pressure on the dictator of Egypt. Perhaps, this is a needed thing. I think that everyone should go home for about a week, breathe deeply, and then a couple leaders should get together and have a long chat.” “What is foreign policy going to look like after this?” Kurmanov asked, “The next leader is going to be great or a disaster, there is no middle ground. The protesters have shown that already.” Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s newly-appointed vice-president stated that a committee will be put in place to amend the constitution, allowing for free elections, but the protestors were not satisfied. “A pause button or an "easy" button would probably be the best option,” Brutt said, “However, those are not available.”
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