Jessica: The streets of Cairo lit up as Egyptian protesters burned army vehicles, launched homemade bombs and hurled rocks at military police. This latest round of violence started when Christians, who make up about 10% of Egypt’s population, took to the streets after blaming Muslim radicals for destroying part of a church. It is some of the worst violence Egypt has seen since its history-making uprising earlier this year.
In February, Egypt’s leader, Hosni Mubarak, resigned after street protesters demanded he end his 30-year reign. Most of the protesters were young and had never known life without Mubarak. But they were angry about the lack of jobs, poverty, and government corruption. They were also inspired by successful uprisings in nearby countries such as Tunisia.
Since Mubarak stepped down, the military has been in control. It promised to hand back power to a civilian administration in six months. But that deadline has passed.
Many Egyptians accuse the military of arresting people for no cause, beatings, and trying to silence the media. In fact, even though this week’s protests were sparked by growing tensions between Christians and Muslims, activists say the violence was directed at the military’s poor handling of the protests.
So, why does the United States care about what goes on in Egypt? Well, with more than 80 million people, it is one of the largest countries in the Middle East. So, it has a lot of influence in the region. It is also a big ally of the United States. In fact, the U.S. gives Egypt billions of dollars in aid.
Just last week, the secretary of defense reaffirmed the relationship and met with Egypt’s military leaders.
Leon Panetta: I expressed my desire to see an orderly, peaceful and legitimate transition to a democratic system of government. It’s extremely important for the stability in this region that Egypt be able to develop a strong democracy for the future and meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.
Jessica: That transition to democracy may finally start in November. That is when the first set of elections are set to begin. But many worry the elections may be delayed by a new uprising, this time between the military and the youth groups that took down Mubarak.
Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.