Egyptian Protests Witnessed Live at the Newseum
WASHINGTON — On Friday morning, Feb. 11, the top news in most newspapers around the world was that embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — despite expectations and the protests of hundreds and thousands of his fellow Egyptians — had refused to leave office.
“Defiant. Deflated,” proclaimed the bold headline in The Record of Stockton, Calif.
“Mubarak Stands Firm,” said The National of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Before noon EST, the story had dramatically shifted.
“President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt,” Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s handpicked vice president, announced on state-run TV.
Since the start of the Egyptian revolt that began Jan. 25, the Newseum has streamed updates and live coverage on its 40-foot high-definition media screen. Visitors were able to see the joyous reactions in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after Mubarak finally stepped down.
First-time visitors Jenny Ansay, 27, and Amanda Graham, 23, of Chicago saw the headlines on the daily newspaper front-page display located outside the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. Inside the building, they saw a different story unfold on the atrium screen.
“I think it’s an achievement [of the Egyptian people] in exercising their rights as human beings to say what they mean,” said Graham. “It sets a good example for people who live in other oppressive societies.”
Ansay, who has followed the uprising mainly on Al-Jazeera English, hopes the network will now be widely available on cable in the United States.
“Hopefully, we’ll have more access to Al-Jazeera,” she said. “It’s been a welcome change.”
The end of Mubarak’s presidency will surely dominate the world’s front pages over the next few days. The Newseum’s Saturday, Feb. 12, Top Ten list of newspaper front pages will reflect the new developments.
The story of how protesters in Tunisia and Egypt used social media to organize and communicate will be part of an exhibit in the Newseum’s Digital News Gallery on Level 3 beginning Feb. 14.