Magdy Bayoumi, Ph.D., director of University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Center for Advanced Computer Studies and an Egyptian citizen, addressed a group of communication students at the Burke-Hawthorne building on Thursday, Feb. 3, about his perspective on the civil unrest currently befalling his home country.
"Personally, I don't think Mubarak should step down now," says Bayoumi, who also heads UL's computer science department. "I like very much the plan that Mubarak stay to finish his term [in September] and, while he is waiting, work on the constitution, have reforms and then go for a new election, but I am supportive also of dissolving the parliament and replacing it with a new one."
Bayoumi mentions that coverage of the demonstrations and what's happening all around the country is being misrepresented by the mainstream media as something he refers to as a "media dictatorship."
"CNN one day will have all of it about Egypt, but the focus is the protestors," says Bayoumi. "There were some protests for Mubarak, not the same size, but they never showed that because it's not news and suddenly Mubarak became a bad guy. The American government, the Western government, if you read between the lines, asking him to leave, to leave, to leave and this is a guy who really helped the U.S. for 30 years if he didn't help them directly he kept the stability there in that region."
Dr. Isa Camyar, a Turkish native and an associate professor of comparative politics and international relations at UL, also weighed in on Egypt's plight. "The events in Egypt reflect Egyptians' demand for a more democratic and effective government in Egypt," says Camyar. "Protesters are convinced that Mubarak's regime has failed on both accounts. The regime has a very poor democratic credential with an almost continuous life under an emergency rule, which has been in place for decades, and grants a significant degree of power to the government to crack down on opposition.
"Also, the regime has not addressed key social problems like deep poverty, unemployment and income inequality," he adds. "In particular, the youth, frustrated with a lack of voice in government and deep socioeconomic problems that hit them most, said enough is enough."
Bayoumi says he wasn't surprised with the uprising because Egypt enjoyed a 6 percent growth in its economy that didn't trickle down to the common people, but he does advocate the orderly transition of power from the constitution to a new government and says if there isn't a process of transition there will be more chaos in the country.
"People who are protesting that square, Liberty Square, they play for the media, but they don't know what the impact of this is," says Bayoumi. "They think the impact is that it is like a magic button and when you push that magic button you will have paradise. So, they think that if Mubarak would step down now Egypt will be another country and everybody would be rich, which is not true. As a matter of fact, these people who are on the square, they are hurting the country."