The Social Instability Leading to Egypt's Unrest

CAIRO - Saturday was another violent day in Egypt as protesters calling for a revolution remain on the streets and the government has made some concessions but continues to fight back.

Special Report: Anger in the Arab World
Pictures of Cairo Unrest

Here's the latest:

• Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has named a vice president for the first time in his 30-year presidency.

• The latest numbers show at least 74 have been killed and 2,000 injured in five days of protests.

• The Egyptian army is backing the government-imposed curfew.

• President Obama's national security team met for two hours Saturday.

A big question in this crisis has been why is all this taking place now. An annual survey by the Pew Research Center may help provide a part of that answer. The survey shows that in 2006 42 percent of Egyptians were dissatisfied with the way things were going in their country. Following a steady climb, last year that number reached 69 percent.

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It might have begun as a youth movement but in the crowd now are religious conservatives protesting, CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports.

Housewives, students, senior citizens, all united against a common enemy - Mubarak, the former fighter pilot who rigged elections to keep a lockhold on power for 30 years.

He squandered billions on palaces, a pampered military and an inner circle of family and business cronies while ignoring the citizens' most basic needs.

"People, they're so separated and segregated from those who make the decisions that the Egyptian people are strangers in their own country," Noor Aiman Noor, a demonstrator, said.

It's a cruel country for the 16 million who eke out a life on less than $2 a day. Forty million don't know even how to read, and those who do, legions of dynamic young people who worked hard to get an education, find there's nowhere to use it.

"Many of the street vendors you see in Egypt may have college degrees, but they have no hope of finding a job, no hope of really meeting their ambitions in life, and these are the people who are now taking their grievances out on the streets," the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin said in Washington.

To top it all off, the world has seen the brutality of the security forces this week. Well it's not reserved for demonstrators. Abuse and torture are the Egyptian police's stock in trade.

Mubarak, who is now 82 years old, has clearly been ambushed by this open challenge to his authority.

"People are here to congratulate them for finally standing up for their rights," Noor said.

Once the people decided enough was enough, it only took them four days to shake a rotten system to the core.

However, it's one thing to shake the system, quite another to dismantle it or reform it. As Saturday turns into Sunday, there's absolutely no plan anywhere that indicates how the government or the army might go forward with that.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."