By AMANDA VENDER and JYOTHI NATARAJAN
People in Egypt were fed up with the way their country was going. They were tired of government corruption (lies and stealing), lots of unemployment and the poor economy. But mainly, they wanted President Hosni Mubarak to leave.
For years, Egyptians held strikes, pickets and demonstrations against the government. In January, Egyptians began to hold mass protests around the country to demand that their president step down from office. After more than 18 days of gathering in the streets, the Egyptian people were victorious: on Friday, February 11 Mubarak was forced out.
Mubarak was president of Egypt for 30 years and ruled with a strong fist. Many people call him a dictator. The 2011 Human Rights Watch report says that the Egyptian government puts human rights activists and journalists in jail, and kills people who try to go to Israel.
In spite of this, the U.S. government has been a large supporter of Mubarak’s regime and has given Egypt more U.S. aid than any other country except for Israel.
In recent weeks, the Egyptian police shot at, beat and imprisoned people who rallied in the streets, and banned public demonstrations. According to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, more than 300 people were killed in the protests because of police violence.
In an interview minutes after Mubarak stepped down, longtime Egyptian activist Nawal El Saadawi proclaimed, “This revolution has unified us. We are not men and women, Christian and Muslim, professional and nonprofessional; we are all Egyptians, and we will not let Egypt burn.”
Nobel Peace Prize-Winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who was a key leader in the uprising, told an NPR reporter: “It’s the greatest day of my life.”
Egypt Quick Facts:
President, until February 11, 2011: Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian Air Force commander
30: Number of years President Mubarak was in power
30: Number of years the United States supported President Mubarak with financial and military aid
$2 billion: Amount in U.S. aid given to Egypt per year, more than any other country except Israel