Egypt: Protests inspired by Tunisia and fanned by social media break out all over


In Egypt, thousands of protesters are gathering at demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria, and many other cities, calling for an end to the 30-year rule of president Hosni Mubarak:

The rallies had been promoted online by groups saying they speak for young Egyptians frustrated by the kind of poverty and oppression which triggered the overthrow of Tunisia's president. Egyptian blogger Hossam El Hamalawy said technology was important in facilitating "the domino effect" needed for demonstrations like this one to progress.

Amazing video here, a "Tienanmen Square" moment in which (around 1:21) a man (soon joined by other) faces off an approaching tank water cannon vehicle. And another here, just two of many eyewitness shots of the mass gatherings unfolding today. Lots more here.

Ethan Zuckerman points us to Global Voices Egypt coverage, lots of translations from social media.

Related NYT coverage here. The protests are said to be the largest in Egypt since 1977.

Photo, above: Anti-government protesters demonstrate near a damaged picture of Gamal Mubarak, son of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and head of the higher political committee of the country's National Democratic Party (NDP), in Alexandria, 230 km (140 miles) north of Cairo, earlier today. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Photo, below: Anti-government protesters clash with police in downtown Cairo today. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)


Below: this incredible photograph from abdulrahman is making the Twitter rounds.



  1. Don’t worry I am sure it was really the Zionists who are behind all of the problems. And we poisoned the well too!

  2. It is amazing how this looks like something we’ve seen before. A huge crowd in the street. Shouting. Panic as the crowd breaks at a single moment. Defiant stragglers remain behind to through some rocks at the soldiers marching in. Funny how our minds work.

  3. Some protesters have had luck against tanks and trucks by sitting down. It takes one superhuman to sit down first in that situation, but it can catch on if others witness the tactic working. A block of 30 sitters really does make a formidable obstacle.

    Turning to face the opposite way might work too.

  4. So the watercannon vehicle moves in, some protesters get right up to the front of the vehicle. It stops, and the cannon can’t be depressed enough to move them away!

    Sadly, the vehicle just decides to head forward again, and the protesters are forced to give way.

  5. the photo by Amr Abdallah Dalsh there. Striking.

    and no, it’s not a tank in the video, but really, it is.

    @Lester – I’ve often thought that some people only know David’s version of the story, and some others only know Goliath’s.

  6. I wish them the best. Mubarak has been oppressing Egyptians for far too long.

    Also, that water truck seems a bit… underwhelming. Did they buy a window-washing truck from Russia?

  7. Why, that’s the Mobile SplashSquirt 400. The finest crowd control vehicle to ever come out of Shindler’s weapon factory.

  8. This is great, on the one hand, but I worry that as this kind of thing spreads, the leadership of affected countries will feel more and more pressure to nip it in the bud with violence. I mean, if you were Hosni Mubarek, or the Saudi Royals watching this start to creep your way, would you see alternatives beyond giving in or clamping down? The Tienanmen Square massacre, did, unfortantely, have its desired effect for the Chinese leadership.

    What I’m guess I’m saying is that I’m really rooting for these people, but I’m starting to do so while peeking through covered eyes.

    1. While that’s certainly a shared sentiment, nothing will ever get better unless they act. If the bulk of Chinese society could have seen what was going on through out the entire Tienanmen Square massacre, from the beginning of the protest, via the internet… who knows how things would have turned out.

      1. Maybe. But I’d wager most of the Chinese people living in cities are so consumed by their new capitalist trappings that governmental oppression is tolerable. (see: USA) It’s really in the Chinese country folk who’ve been left out of the Great Lifting Up that real change is possible. But I’m not sure how much technology plays in these peoples’ lives. And it certainly won’t be through US support. Our corporations need the communist regime to stay in place so that wage, human rights, and environmental laws won’t be passed.

  9. go, nonviolent struggle, go!

    keep up the good spirit, and carry it on to the second campaign: building a democracy.


  10. “ACME Water Cannons, You Yoke ‘Em, We Soak ‘Em, My name is Steve, how can I help you today?”
    “Yeah, hi. I’m Egypt, and I’m calling about the Neptune M1”
    “The Power of the Waves for the Government that Saves, our best model. And what…”
    “It shoots too high.”
    “I’m sorry? It’s supposed to shoot high, that’s for range.”
    “Yeah, uh, if somebody’s standing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DAMN THING, I CAN’T HOSE THEM DOWN.”

    1. #1 Two guys with a roll of duct tape could have shut that water “cannon” down pretty easily.

      #2 Bricko, the “of course X is an asshat, but do you want even worse asshats in charge?” -argument has kept the Middle East – and us – screwed up for too long. It’s time for new asshats.

  11. thank you for posting this with links. I’ve been looking all over for information about this since I first heard about it this morning (PST). There’s very little info out there so far and it seems to be non-existent in the US media (at least on TV). This may blow over, this may blow up. Either way I’d like to know more about what’s going on.

  12. One of the basic rules of land warfare is “Don’t send tanks unsupported by infantry”. This is why. If your own infantry aren’t there to stop them, the other side’s foot soldiers can screw with your armor.

    See also “Problems caused by heavy weapons that can’t depress for close-range engagements”.

  13. If a nation suppresses its people for long enough, there will eventually be a backlash. When the people see their leaders living in luxury whilst they themselves have to go without food, jobs, basic necessities, and they have access to the internet…….

    …..there may be trouble ahead.

  14. Dont forget these protesters are Islamists wanting to turn a secular state into another Sharia Islamic state. NOT just some poor disgruntled teenagers. The same as the protesters in Egypt are the Muslim Brotherhood bent on the same in Egypt.

    So pick your oppressors wisely and understand what is being protested.

    1. What’s your evidence for that, bricko? Most of the Tunisian protestors, for instance, were loudly asking for a more democratic government. Do you have any indiction that this is different?

    2. The Muslim Brotherhood has little to do with the protests in Tunis. In Egypt they are trying harder but as of yet have no pull.

      @Samsam hopefully they manage to do it better than us

    3. Um, brother, these protesters ARE the ones in Egypt. Aside from being wrong there, I also disagree with the point you were trying to make, which where you equate “Islamists” and “the Egyptian protesters” without evidence.

      I mean, SOME of the people who fought the American Revolutionary war were slave owners. Does that mean we should have a do-over or something?

    4. I was wondering about this. I am so head in the sand. Power hates a vacuum. I have been thinking about this more and more with regard to the US govt. If we lose our stability then what, we are the most well fed pigs decked out in cheap shit and I feel even we are about to go civil war batshit.

      Regardless, seeing people standing up against seemingly insurmountable power always makes me feel hopeful, I just never know why. Amazing photos and footage.

  15. YES! I knew this Masryah could count on BB to help spread the message!

    If you want the latest updates, go here for the best stream of the Twitter hashtag #jan25:

    If you can understand Arabic, go here:!/RNN.NEWS

    Twitter itself has been shut down in Egypt, and I suspect there’s something awry going on when #jan25 is NOT a trending topic despite the thousands of posts sent the last 12 hours.

    Nonetheless, Facebook is still accessible through proxy servers despite many people whose internet and cell phone services got blocked.

    International hackers have shutdown the Egyptian government’s websites.

    And Hosni’s wife and son and son’s family have reportedly fled to the UK. With “97 pieces of luggage.” Knowing Egyptian, that sounds about as credible as you can get. (Don’t let the sand your asses on the way out!)

    A national strike is planned for tomorrow #Jan26 – Protesters in Cairo, Alexandria & all over Egypt. No school, No University & No Work (as if it would make a dent in the already vast unemployment rate).

    ¡Viva la Revolución!

  16. While Mubarak is certainly a tyrant, the next-most powerful group in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamists who will make the current Egyptian regime look like Disneyland if they gain power. Egypt is not Tunisia. I fear that this could turn into a new Islamic Revolution like Iran’s in 1979 – while the Shah was by no means a democratic leader, the rise of the Mullahs made everything much, much worse for everyone.

    1. I thought that Egypt is the one place where there has always been a cosmopolitan society? I think personally that that gives a bit of hope to the world and if they decide to do without the $1.5 ++ that US gives them to keep their foot in the door they have that right.
      This saying that it is Zion v Islam is just fear mongering to spread paranoia to the rest of us. These people in the street are brave no doubt of that.

  17. bricko, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    These are protestors are NOT “Islamists” so stop spouting whatever Foxnews told you.

    The protestors are the voices of “Z Egyptian Beople” inspired by Tunisia and sick of living in the BS known as “BFE.”

    This is not a secular revolution.

  18. There will be more protests. This has more to do with both the current high cost of food and the islamic crisis than inspiration via social media.

  19. Cry Freedom!

    Tonight, we swallow our differences.
    Fire, Annabella. In the street, in our throats, in the sky. Red Fire. The ground is shaking.


    I have felt this before. The masses are on the move.

    –A Bright Room Calley Day by Tony Kushner–

  20. Of course they want to “vote”…once. Once they vote the Islamists in…do you think there will be more elections. Keep telling yourself that. How many elections do you see in Islamist states that allow free monitored elections….

    Of course Mubarek et al are asshats…but do you want even worse asshats in charge. Again…pick your asshat. Who, what, do you think will take over when Mubarek is thrown under the Islamist bus.

    Any guesses….that dont follow the usual Leftist line that any Islamists is a good Islamists?

    1. I think I’ve heard this one before from Tom Lehrer.

      For might makes right
      And till they’ve seen the light
      They’ve got to be protected
      All their rights respected
      ‘Till somebody we like can be elected

  21. Is everyone just holding Mubarak and his government responsible for this or am I reading a deeper and broader indictment into other forms of governance and other governments?

  22. It’s not that the protesters themselves are Islamists – the vast majority of them certainly aren’t – but unlike Tunisia, which is a very secular country, the Islamists in Egypt have been positioning themselves for a takeover of the government for decades now, it’s only Mubarak’s suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood that’s kept them down there. If Mubarak’s government falls, there is a real danger that the Islamists will swoop in, regardless of the wishes of the Egyptian people.

    Hopefully the international community will help Egypt have actual democratic elections following this – not sham elections like their current system, and not elections like America forced on Iraq and the Palestinians, just allowing a free vote without first ensuring rule of law to prevent coercion, and without requiring that all parties recognize civil rights for all citizens. Otherwise you get another clusterfuck like Gaza, where the people end up more oppressed after the election than they were before it.

    1. “If Mubarak’s government falls, there is a real danger that the Islamists will swoop in, regardless of the wishes of the Egyptian people.”

      There is, but the Egyptians are well aware that Islamists have never succeeded in addressing the basic needs of the people, not in Algeria, not in Afghanistan, and, well, not in Gaza. And these people in Cairo right now are literally hungry. The last few years in Egypt have been hard.

  23. I think these protesters are very brave: but all too often in these cases ‘the nail that sticks up gets hammered down’.

    Remember the monks in Burma? That turned out ill for those that dared.

    God bless ’em if they can effect real change for the better in their respective lands. But I trust the Mob to rally and rebel, dismantle and destroy hated systems and organizations. . .less so to build a cohesive, fair alternative.

    Demolition is always easier than construction. And yes, the Islamists already have a system: ‘Sharia, fool! What!?!’

    The Middle East suffers greatly for a myriad of reasons: scars of colonialism, the benefit and curse of oil, foreign meddling, thousands of years of war and conquest. . .

    The corrupt secular strongman I Do Not Love and Cannot Support.

    But dump the Shah. . .what do you get? Dispose Saddam and occupy the country: an improvement? No easy answers.

    And I say Power to the People. But, I know that if the times ever got that bad Here: I do have water cannon experience. And mouths to feed. God help me, I *might* have to support the Evil Empire. . .

    sigh. Good luck. Be careful out there. . .

  24. If you have access to a shortwave set and some rudimentary Arabic you can hear the corrupt governments try to use Israel as a smoke screen to distract their people. If they could ever allow a peace deal, which is doubtful there would be blood in the streets of most Muslim nations as the in place governments wouldn’t be able to use state antisemitism to distract their people. The well poisoning is only mostly a joke, every ill is blamed on Jews and Israel. What they don’t know is we are the real underpants gnomes of the middle east, when underpants disappear it is we who have stolen them, for profit!

  25. Thank you, Boing Boing, for covering this. Very inspiring to see people out on the street, and interesting to see it spreading across borders.

    Dan Carlin of the Common Sense Podcast ( spent some time in his latest podcast discussing the potential for a movement spreading across multiple countries. Worthwhile listening if following the topic.

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