The unrest in the Middle East continues as Libyans face foreign military intervention and the violence in Bahrain and Yemen erupts.

The Saturday that just passed brought out demonstrators to Dundas Square in downtown Toronto that showed their support for the Arab nations fighting for freedom.

Hundreds of people chanted slogans like “the world must know, Gadaffi has to go” and “down, down Gadaffi”. This peaceful rally occurred just an hour or so after Western military began invading Libya. Many demonstrators had mixed feelings about the invasion, Mahmaud Elaradi who has family in Tripoli expressed that the foreign intervention may be a good thing but it is a little too late, “The international community knows who Gadaffi is and what he is capable of. He is a criminal and a terrorist. He has been killing innocent people for over 40 years.”

In the middle of interviewing Elaradi a friend approached him and shared that a relative had just been killed in Tripoli.

Elaradi went on to say that he feels helpless for his country but definitely thinks it is a wake up call for the Arab nation, “We are saying no more to dictators, we are saying yes to democracy, to freedom, to justice. Those dictators have been there for too long, it is time for a change.” Elaradi’s frustrations rippled through the crowds of people chanting for freedom.

Mariam Yousif helped plan the pro-democracy rally with the Arab Solidarity Campaign – which supports the growing movements for freedom throughout the Arab world. Yousif, who was at the rally with her two young daughters, said that the protestors are pleading for freedom and for the country’s Sunni monarchy to step down, “the people of Bahrain have been oppressed for decades and now they are finally speaking out.” Yousif also made it clear that the Saudi troops need to leave Bahrain and the massacre of innocent civilians needs to come to an end.

Regardless of the mixed reactions to the foreign military intervention in Libya, the one thing that is clear and agreed on amongst the large crowd is: the people of Yemen, Bahrain and Libya having been waiting far too long for democracy.

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Domino effect: one starts, the rest follow

The anti-government protests in the Middle East continue as residents realize that social change is possible and achievable after Tunisia and Egypt succeed in their fight for democracy.

Tunisia

The beginning of this revolution can be traced back to a brave street vendor who burned himself to death in December. The rest of the protesters rallied over social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook discussing the over throw of their former president.

People gathered on the streets to protest and bring attention to social and political issues. Residents of Tunisia were ruled with an iron fist by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali for 23 years. Activists in the country were determined to bring democracy and justice to the Arab world.

On January 14th, former president Mr. Ben Ali left the country stepping down from his long reign as dictator.

Egypt

Protests erupted in Egypt in January as tens of thousands of people demanded that Hosni Mubarak step down after ruling the country for 30 years.

Following in Tunisia’s footsteps protestors made plans over Facebook and Twitter. After the government caught wind of this, they had the country in a communication lockdown cutting off their Internet connection in an attempt to stop the protests.

Sick and tired of living under a repression of social exclusion, little to no jobs for the youth and rigged elections, Egyptians continued protesting for 18 days demanding change. On February 11th, Mubarak stepped down handing control to the Supreme Military Council.

Bahrain

Protestors in Bahrain are demanding for King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah to be removed from power and for Prime Minster Khalifah bin Sulman al-Khalifah to step down.

There has been growing tension between the Shiite population and the al-Khalifah family who is Sunni for some time now with religion and political injustice coming into play.

On February 16th, the people of Bahrain took it to the streets in Pearl Square to rally against the government. Riot police officers responded violently by firing shots, grenades and tear gas into the large crowds.

Protests continue with their demands for the monarchy government to resign and political prisoners to be released.

Yemen

President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been in power for 32 years said he would not run for re-election in 2013 but protestors are still demanding change. They say that the corruption of the government stunts the country’s attempt to advance their economy and social standings.

Police have attempted to disperse the large crowds by firing gunshots but that has only resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians.

Despite the ten-day protest Saleh is refusing to give in to the demands set out by his people.

Iraq

In various cities in southern Iraq people followed suit and protested but instead of asking their government to step down, they are demanding changes. Growing frustrations amoung residents include the lack of unemployment and public services available. To this day people in Iraq are living without constant electricity and qualified water resources.

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki addressed the protests blaming some of the problems that Iraq is still experiencing on the previous regime.

He is encouraging Iraqis to stay away from violence and to express their demands in a civilized manner. Maliki is asking residents for time to recover from the war and former dictator government.

Libya

Perhaps the most violent of all protests erupted in Libya on February 16 when a crowd armed with gasoline bombs protested outside a government office. Protestors are demanding the release of a human rights advocate in the capital, Tripoli. They also called for Muammar Gaddafi to step down after ruling as a dictator for 41 years.

Foreign journalists cannot enter and the government shut down the Internet after finding out the use of social networks played a huge role in the demonstrations.

The Human Rights Watch has reported that at least 233 civilians have been killed (if not more) with as many as 200 people injured and 800 wounded after Gaddafi called on the army to take extreme violent measures to stop the protests.

Rumours went around today that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela but he appeared on state TV reassuring the world that he is in Tripoli.