Egypt faces ‘a moment of opportunity and danger,’ according to British politician, Lord Paul Boateng.
Lord Boateng was speaking at the Bible Society-backed African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) forum meeting in Addis Ababa yesterday (Saturday).
Some 200 clerics, charity workers and politicians were discussing the failures of good governance in African countries such as Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak has led an autocratic regime for the last 30 years.
Lord Boateng, a member of the House of Lords, said, "For Egypt and the wider world, this is a moment both of opportunity and danger; the danger of sliding into chaos and extremism, the opportunity of a free, inclusive and truly democratic society that could be a model for the rest of African and the Arab world."
Protestors took to the streets of Cairo on Tuesday [25 January] to complain about rising food prices.
The protests soon spread to other Egyptian cities, with demonstrators calling for the end of the Mubarak regime.
By Friday night, some hospitals across the country were said to be overwhelmed, with at least 870 injured and 26 reported dead. But as violence on the streets continues those numbers are set to rise.
Key government buildings and police vehicles were set on fire, as the Army took to the streets in tanks.
Lord Boateng said that the protests were the result of "an outpouring of frustration and long-suppressed anger at the absence of the freedoms of opportunities that characterises 'the good life' the world over."
He added: "The right to work and freedom of expression which are central to the core of the people on the streets are basic human rights. They are rights, however, that are denied to many Africans."
After long support of the Mubarak regime, the West appears to be withdrawing its support. The White House said last night that, ‘the legitimate grievances’ of the people needed to be heard by the Egyptian government.
A spokesman for Bible Society, David Smith said: "Two thousand years ago the people of Egypt provided a safe haven for Jesus and his family as they fled an oppressive regime.
"We also know from the Bible that God has endowed all of us with equal dignity and value. My prayer is that the people of Egypt will have the same peace and security."