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What do you want for Egypt's future?

Xavier Zapata | 15:48 UK time, Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Egypt Tahrir Square


This topic was discussed at 1800 GMT on World Have Your Say on 1 February 2011. Listen to the programme.

It's the biggest demonstration so far in Egypt. Tahrir square, in central Cairo, is heaving with people, and their message is clear: President Mubarak must stand down.

Organisers say the aim is to mobilise as many as a million people. Reports vary on the scale of the protest. The BBC says that more than a hundred thousand people are there. But Al-Jazeera put the figure at more than a a million.

We've heard the calls for freedom, democracy and a new politics in Egypt. But what will happen if Mubarak goes? Will it be a brave new world or a brutish state of nature?

Freelance writer Hamza Usman says President Mubarak has kept Egypt stable in a dangerous neighbourhood. He says forcing him out will open up a pandora's box:

History teaches us that the immediate removal of a strong leader immediately engenders a state of anarchic chaos where rivals with strong factions vie for power. (...) Unless there is a clearly identified succession path and a transition phase outlined, forcing Mubarak to step down may just open the dikes on a torrent of violence, instability and petty infighting.

Richard Lowry says Mubarak should go, but not yet:

It is best that change come gradually through the democratic process rather than all at once in the streets (...) Mubarak has systematically neutered his organized democratic opposition, leaving the Islamists as the most obvious alternative to him.

But the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei, a key opponent of the government, says the status quo will only mean more violence

Mubarak must resign and leave the state in order to prevent bloodshed

So what are the protesters' plans for a democratic future? Is Egypt ready for democracy? Or is life without Mubarak inherently unstable?

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