Sunday, February 6, 2011

Al Jazeera English's Egypt: A Nation in Waiting (2008) on Mubarak's Egypt, An Excellent Backgrounder to Current Events

Image from Al Jazeera English'sindepth coverage of events in Egypt

Al Jazeera English has been widely commended for its indepth coverage of the events in Egypt, through multiple modalities: print, photography, video, live streaming.

A documentary Al Jazeera prepared in 2008 on Mubarak and Egypt has been rebroadcast on a number of North American educational or news programs. I was able to view it on the CBC's Passionate Eye, a program that airs international documentaries of high quality on a number of contemporary topics. Unfortunately, while the CBC is generous with its videos, the quality of its player is poor. Fortunately, Al Jazeera English has uploaded the video to Youtube, as embedded below.

The documentary was done more to explain recent events in 2008 but is a good overview of Mubarak's rise to power, and of the reasons for progressive discontent with him. The main thesis is that when negative economics met negative politics a tipping point was reached. However, in describing a protest by judges against Mubarak's interference in judicial process, the documentary also made clearer to me more of what the current protesters mean by Mubarak's robbing professionals of their dignity to perform their roles. Further, it traces the rise of Gamal Mubarak and how that also has become a tipping point.

I recommend the 48 minute video as an excellent backgrounder to today's events, and Mubarak's strategies. It may seem somewhat soft on Mubarak while being clear on his abuses of power, but if one takes the sum of who is saying what against him, it is at once a damning portrait of an "elected" military dictator, and an explanation of why he does have supporters, including among farmers.


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