Widgets Magazine

Beinin discusses Egypt uprising

History professor Joel Beinin, an expert in Middle East history, delivered a talk on the current uprisings in Egypt on Tuesday afternoon in front of a full crowd in the Lane History Corner.

Since Jan. 25, protestors have taken to the streets of Egypt’s main cities, calling for the fall of the existing regime and the resignation of incumbent president Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981.

Over the weekend, Mubarak appointed a vice president and made attempts to reshuffle his government, measures that did not appease protestors. Monday saw the launch of a “Million Man March” in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and during Beinin’s talk, Mubarak announced that he would not be running for reelection in September. Several world leaders, including President Obama, had previously urged him to take this step. Egyptians continue to call for his immediate removal.

After presenting a brief history of the nation since 1952, Beinin painted a bleak picture of the 40 percent of Egypt’s population living near or below the poverty line, highlighting a 25-percent employment rate for young men and 23-percent inflation on food and beverages in urban areas.

“This didn’t happen on Facebook. It happened as a result of certain historical processes,” Beinin said, emphasizing the value of a historical approach in analyzing the uprising.

These historical processes, Beinin argued, were put in place by the “authoritarian kleptocracy” of Mubarak’s regime and its “resolve to embark on the neoliberal agenda.”

Mobilization of labor, corruption (or in Beinin’s words, the “classic crony capitalist project”) and income inequality were among the historical processes to which Beinin assigned blame. Tunisia’s recent uprising’s effect was also discussed, but Beinin was careful to make distinctions between the two North African states.

“Two key things happened in Tunisia that haven’t happened in Egypt yet, and one of which won’t happen,” Beinin said. “The trade union federation changed sides, and the army changed sides.

“In Egypt, the trade union federation is not going to change sides because there is too much at stake,” he added. “The army still hasn’t decided, which will be the biggest make-or-break factor.”

Beinin ended the talk by mentioning an undergraduate advisee who is currently in Egypt. This student had communicated messages to him from the streets of Cairo to be relayed to America.

“Tell people in America nobody wants an Islamic government. We are protesting because we are tired and sick of hardships,” Beinin said, quoting the student. “Ask people in America to speak out against their government and support what we are doing.”

Following the talk, a 20-minute question-and-answer session saw audience members asking Beinin about the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, the food shortage, U.S. policy regarding Israel and the prospects for Egypt’s future.

On this final point, Beinin gave a cautious response.

“Egypt is fundamentally broken in many ways…and democracy does not come without a struggle.”

About Marwa Farag

Marwa Farag is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously, she was the managing editor of news, managing editor of the former features section, a features desk editor and a news writer.
  • Ted Rudow III,MA

    No one should give President Hosni Mubarak too much credit for being such a great peacemaker, such a martyr, and such a sacrificial idealist to make peace with Israel! As for Mubarak, he is a strong man, strong-willed. He looks unto his own ways. But that kingdom fights even among itself, and that house shall not stand.

    He is a man who is set in his ways. He is strong in his own eyes. Yet there are many hidden sorrows, there are many deep disappointments. There were many opportunities for him to give in, but he would not. He turned to his own strength. Within himself he struggles, he fights, he knows not where his loyalties should be. He has compromised so many times, and knows not what is right.

    You can bet your boots the US promised him everything if he would make peace with Israel, and they have been delivering. They give Egypt now almost as much aid as Israel. Israel’s getting US$2 or 3 billion a year. Egypt got US$1.2 billion this past year.

    Of course, they’re not going to give as much to Egypt, former enemies, as they are to their dear friends and relatives the Jews!

  • Alumna

    Ted, your anti-semitic rants say more about you than the situation in the Middle East. Spare the Stanford community your bigotry.

  • King Nine

    Hey Ted, Welcome back.Where have you been?

  • sam1am

    Let start with the obvious, J. Beinin the so called expert on the Mideast is nothing but a Israel hater and every word out of his orifice is bovine scatology…. I am sure Ahmadinejad would have awarded him the highest medal of iran’s Mullahs Order of Martyrs…..
    I cannot believe how Stanford keep a guy like Beinin in their Faculty, he is not even close to an objective scientist or political observer, he is a fraud.
    Ted, true to form your selective memory never failed to mention the redundant and nonesense….
    Sadat the President of Egypt came to Israel and initiate the peace process, neither Jimmy Carter Nor Zbigniew Brzezinski his security adviser OBJECTED initially this Two-country negotiation. These morons insisted that only a UTOPIAN peace treaty between all sides in the Mideast must be negotiated….. It took two years of prodding Jordan and Syria for Carter and BB to finally give up their wishful plan and join Begin and Sadat on the podium to sign this treaty signed in 1979……

  • Chris

    Why does Beinin get called an “expert”. He is a pro-Arab propagandist who has very shoddy research.

  • Reggie

    It would be nice to get an historical perspective on Egypt without all the loaded phrases “classic capitalist cronyism” that make people want to turn off the Beinin channel. He cares more about his academic conceits than he does about the people of Egypt. No one may want the Brotherhood, just like in 1979 no one wanted the Ayatollah, but they go thim anyway.