Answering kids' questions on Egypt

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mummies, pyramids, camels and the Nile River.

If you asked most kids what they think when they hear "Egypt," those would probably be the most common answers.

But in the past week, that Middle Eastern country has been in the news not for its rich culture and history or its unique geography, but because of protests against its government. Yesterday, in response to the protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not run for reelection.

The protests are disrupting the lives of just about everyone in Egypt, including kids.

Teymour Pourcines, 13, has not been to school since the demonstrations began. In Teymour's neighborhood, about 45 minutes west of the country's capital of Cairo, the neighbors have hired security guards. Teymour is having a tough time communicating with his friends or playing some of his favorite games online because the Egyptian government has shut down Internet service.

"I cannot go into the streets because my mom won't let me," Teymour said. "When I wake up every morning, the first thing I do is turn on the television to see how Egypt is doing. I see tear gas and soldiers and people who are trying to talk freely about the changes they want."

KidsPost answers some questions you might have about all the news.

Why are people in Egypt so upset?

Mubarak has been Egypt's president for almost 30 years. But his government has not given the Egyptian people much freedom. Although some Egyptians are very rich, many more are poor and unemployed. The protests come weeks after demonstrations in the country of Tunisia drove its president from power.

Don't they have elections in Egypt like we have in the United States? Can't they just vote Mubarak out?

Mubarak has put tough limits on people and groups who oppose him, making it difficult for them to organize and win elections. Elections are scheduled for September, and in a speech to the Egyptian people last night, Mubarak said he would not run again. He said he would work for a "peaceful transfer of power."

Why do people in the United States care about what's going on in Egypt?

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