World news lately has been so depressing, with it’s focus on the Middle East, anti-government protests have been spreading across the region like wild-fire. Protesters are challenging their authoritarian rulers to step down after many years of oppression. Sparked by Tunisia and Egypt, people are confidently raising their voices to their governments and rulers in hopes of a positive outcome. Here’s a recap on the tensions in Middle East:
- Tunisia: In what became known as the Jasmine Revolution, a sudden and explosive wave of street protests ousted the authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years. On January 14, Ben Ali left the country, after trying unsuccessfully to placate the demonstrators with promises of elections. According to government figures issued later, 78 protesters died and 94 were injured during the demonstrations.
- Egypt: On Feb. 11, 2011, after 18 days of massive public protests against his rule, Mubarak resigned and turned power over to the military before leaving Cairo. This positive outcome has sparked revolutions in neighboring countries.
- Libya: Security forces killed reportedly killed 35 people in the eastern city of Benghazi late on Friday, when security forces opened fire on people protesting after funeral processions for victims of earlier violence. Human Rights Watch cited witnesses and hospital sources when putting the death toll at 84 from the worst violence of Muammar Gaddafi’s four decades in power.
- Algeria: In Algiers, police in riot gear crammed around 500 protesters into the courtyard of a residential block before they could reach May 1 Square in the city centre. The gathering, organized by the Co-ordination for Democratic Change in Algeria, had been intended to build on a similar protest a week ago which organisers said brought an estimated 10,000 people and up to 26,000 riot police on to the streets of the capital.
- Yemen: Riot police in the capital, Sanaa, shot dead a protester and injured five others when they opened fire on thousands marching in the 10th day of unrest rocking the country. Protesters began marching early in the morning from the University of Sanaa to the Ministry of Justice chanting “The people want the fall of the regime”, until they were met by riot police and supporters of the president. The president’s supporters, armed with clubs and knives, attacked the crowd and both sides threw stones while at one point police fired in the air to disperse the march.
- Jordan: At least eight people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Jordan’s capital between government supporters and opponents at a protest calling for more freedom and lower food prices. About 2,000 pro-democracy protesters were holding their peaceful weekly demonstration in the capital when they came under attack from pro-government activists armed with batons, pipes and stones
- Bahrain: Troops and armoured vehicles left a Manama square that had been a base for anti-government protesters, hours after opposition groups rejected a royal call for dialogue unless the military stood down. Police firing tear gas clashed with demonstrators who tried to claim a victory by moving back into their former stronghold in Pearl Square. Tents, removed two days ago by the army, were set up again along with makeshift medical stations to treat any wounded. Mourners buried those killed in violent clashes between antigovernment protesters and security forces, as the government hardened its stance against the demonstrations.
- Kuwait: At least 1,000 stateless Arabs have demonstrated in Jahra demanding citizenship, leading to dozens of them being arrested by police, witnesses have said. Security forces dispersed the demonstration, using smoke bombs and water cannon after protesters refused warnings to leave.
- Iraq: Violent protests have taken place at various locations in Iraq, with anti-government protesters rallying against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment. In Basra, the country’s second largest city, about 1,000 people rallied on Friday, demanding better service delivery from the government, jobs and improved pensions.
- Iran: protest rally in Tehran and other cities on Sunday to mark a week since the deaths of two people in earlier demonstrations. rallies on Sunday will be a “fight against religious dictatorship” in Iran.
- Ivory Coast: protesters in Abidjan were calling for the incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, to step down.
- Djibouti: Anti-government protestors clashed with security forces 24 hours after hundreds of demonstrators demanding the president step down hurled stones at riot police who fired back with tear gas. At least one policeman was killed, and sources said one protester had also been killed.
- Morocco: A group of young Moroccans that calls itself the “February 20 Movement for Change” has called for nationwide protests on Sunday to push for constitutional reforms that would reduce King Mohammed’s powers and make the justice system more independent. The group, which has gathered more than 17,000 Facebook fans, also wants to force the 47-year-old monarch to dismiss the government and dissolve parliament.
“Truth is on the side of the oppressed.” -Malcom X
All this unrest has got me a little worried. I’m all for revolutions and fighting for individual rights, it’s not the events of the protests but that the world seems to be crumbling.
“Are they waiting for anything except the Hour, to come to them suddenly? But its Signs have already come!” (Al-Qur’an, Surah Muhammad)