By Sandro Contenta, Toronto Star, January 29, 2011
Youssef Farag, 56, put it this way: “The people of Egypt are like the Nile. They are soft, but when they become angry, the flood takes everything.”
“The fear is gone,” said Mohammed Abdel Latif, 52. “I’m not poor. I own a business. On Thursday I was saying: ‘Let me be safe. I won’t go out on the street to protest.’ Today, here I am. I thank the young people for waking up my generation.”
Latif had a message for Western governments, which for decades have backed a president who outlawed opposition parties and manipulated elections: “If you want true friends in the Middle East, befriend the people, not the rulers. If the United States, Europe and Canada decide that Mubarak is no longer their man, he is finished.”
The U.S. alone gives Egypt $1.3 billion (U.S.) a year in military aid.
With calls for a general strike for today, and with some if not many of the police removing their uniforms and leaving them in the street, to be picked up by the protestors and waved on sticks, the announcement by Mubarak of his new vice-president is not likely to be enough to quell the rage among the people.
We hear both the U.S. and Canadian spokepeople urging the President to make changes, to take this opportunity to bring fundamental change to the ruling of his country, without formally or publicly siding with the protestors.
Now that at least 1000 prisoners have escaped prison and taken arms, there are some signs that what started as a peaceful protest will change course to become a blood battle; currently (6:33 a.m. EST) the count is 74 dead.
Is the soft Nile now in full flood, and will it's flood remove the president, apparently the sole object of the torrent of anger sweeping the streets?