Mubarak Addresses Nation, UB Reacts
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Worldwide media sources anticipated that embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down from his post Thursday evening. Mubarak put the speculations to rest as he refused to step down from his post or leave the country.
According to reports from Al Jazeera English, the Arabic-language news network, Mubarak refused to "bow to foreign pressure" in his televised address to Egypt on Thursday evening. However, he announced that he was delegating "some authorities" to Omar Suleiman, the new vice-president and a close confidante of Mubarak's.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian civilians gathered at Tahir Square in Cairo, and Cario and other major cities erupted in angry chants against Mubarak, according to Al Jazeera.
Previous to his announcement, the military announced on state television that its Supreme Council was in permanent session, which suggested that the military was taking control. Civilians that gathered in Cairo were told by the top general that "all of their demands would be satisfied," which protestors believed meant the end of Mubarak's nearly 30-year authoritarian rule, according to the Associated Press.
Suleiman spoke to Egypt in a televised address shortly after Mubarak, where he called on protestors to "go back home and go back to work" and stated that he had been "delegated by the president the responsibilities to safeguard the stability of Egypt, to safeguard its…assets…to restore peace and security to the Egyptian public, and to restore the normal way of life," according to Al Jazeera.
Protests began against Mubarak's regime on Jan. 25. Members of the UB community have weighed in on the demonstrations, Mubarak, and the future of Egypt's government.
David Westbrook, a Floyd H. & Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar and professor in the School of Law, supports the demonstrations but also hopes for peace and a constitutional change in Egypt.
"I think Hosni Mubarak should leave. Thirty years is a long time to exercise power. Too long," Westbrook said in an e-mail. "Moreover, he has lost most of whatever authority he once enjoyed. Finally, transitions are inevitable. One of the key problems with authoritarian regimes is that they do not manage transitions well."
In terms of the reaction of the U.S. to the demonstrations, Westbrook believes that the Obama administration has been "understandably cautious."
"There are real dangers here. The country could slide into chaos, there could be a real hardening of attitudes toward minorities and Israel and the United States, and so forth," Westbrook said. "But there are also real opportunities to extend democracy and human rights, which I believe the administration also recognizes. A fundamentally more democratic and simply happier Egypt is in the region's interest, and so in the interest of the United States."
Westbrook maintains that he is optimistic.
Tarek Ragab, a member of the Buffalo Chapter of the Egyptian Student Association in North America, hopes to see a more democratic Egypt as well but argues that Mubarak is not the only problem.
"Mubarak is only the face of the current regime. The whole regime must go now," Ragab said in an e-mail. "If that happens, I think there is no problem for Mubarak to stay [until] September, but he doesn't want to sacrifice his corrupted regime. That's why everyone thinks that he should leave too."
In terms of the future of Egypt's government, Ragab hopes to see an increase in equality and freedom.
"[New laws should] allow for more freedom of speech, freedom of academic and teaching institutions, allow for free and fair elections, and allow for more transparency. That is what the new government can do other than major constitutional changes that have to go through the parliament," said Ragab, who is also a joint research scientist in the electronic packaging laboratory in the Department of Civil Engineering.