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What the United States Can Learn from Egypt About Democracy

Egyptians seem to be enjoying democracy more than Americans have for a long time.

For the last six months, I've visited the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, sometimes as a reporter, sometimes as a curious (and, I admit, sympathetic) onlooker. At these demonstrations, men on stages shouted speeches into crackling microphones and crowds chanted anti-military slogans, while all around me, Egyptians of every stripe—poor and wealthy and middle class, Muslim and Christian, leftist and pro-market liberal—engaged in debates about the role of the military in political life or the future of Egypt’s constitution. As I stood there amid the tents, in the heart of downtown Cairo, in the brutal heat of July, in the overwhelming excitement of a continuing revolution, I often thought about politics in the United States, where I was born and raised.

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We Win: Why Mubarak Stepping Down Feels Good Even Thousands of Miles Away

Egypt is joyous after its three-decade dictator succumbed to massive protests. Here's why that should make you happy.


Though the historical reach of Egypt extends far beyond the Arab states, many of us have no tangible connection whatsoever to the embroiled, newly Mubarak-less nation. Sure, we’ve been keeping tabs on the volatile situation there for the past few weeks, but that’s not the same as having relatives there or having lived there ourselves. And yet it’s still been exciting and joyous to watch the events unfold day in and day out, and it fills us with hope to today watch Hosni Mubarak step down as president. In a way, it feels like our victory, too. Is that OK? Yes, it is. Here’s why.

1. It proves that smart, rational people are everywhere.

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Revolution in Egypt: Who's Next?

Hosni Mubarak's regime is over. Which other populations around the Middle East and Africa are ready to follow Egypt's lead?

You may have heard: The 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt is over. He was toppled by a swell of popular protest, organized with the aid of technology. What kind of government Egypt will end up with is unclear (the military is in charge in the near term) but these are historic times for the country and the region.

To provide some insight into which countries might follow Egypt's lead and change leadership, The Economist made this "Shoe Thrower's Index" (throwing a shoe, as you may remember, is a strong sign of dissatisfaction in Arab and Islamic countries).

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Egypt: Vodafone Caves to Mubarak. Did they Have a Choice? Vodafone Caves on Mubarak's Demand to Shut Cell Service

The government of Egypt asked Vodafone to turn off all cell service to 25 million customers and Vodafone said, sure, OK, we'll do that.



When cell service vanished for as many as 60 million customers in Egypt on Friday it wasn't the government turning off the towers, it was cell providers. At least for Vodafone customers who said in a statement that President Hasni Mubarak's government asked all cell providers to suspend all service. And Vodafone complied. The government asked. Vodafone said sure.

Should the British telecom company have done otherwise? Amnesty International thinks so. "Vodaphone's willingness to close down its network is simply beyond belief," AI's secretary general told the German business paper Handelsblatt (English link).

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