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Will Egypt follow Tunisia's lead?

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Thousands of people who filled the streets of Cairo on Tuesday hope their demonstrations against corruption and failing economic policies will cause upheaval in the government, like the similar protests in Tunisia that inspired them. But analysts caution that in Egypt, the protesters are up against a different set of challenges. Juan Cole, a Middle East historian at the University of Michigan and blogger, describes Tunisia as "a little bit unique." "There have been lots of civil wars. There's been lots of societies in turmoil. But this kind of phenomenon where you had crowds peacefully coming into the streets to demand a change in their own contract with their government -- in the Arab world proper, this is the first time it's happened and it's the first time since 1979 in the Middle East," Cole told CNN last week. He noted that Tunisia is the "most secular country in the Arab world." Its traditions have favored women's rights and its Islamist influence is negligible. Tunisia also lacked the oil resources of other Arab states and the ethnic divisions seen in other Middle Eastern countries, which make it harder for opposition movements to unite, he noted.