Governments throughout the world experiencing a summer of political heat - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 1 July

Governments throughout the world experiencing a summer of political heat - Today’s news, tomorrow’s lesson - 1 July

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 1 July

Governments throughout the world experiencing a summer of political heat

For the second time in almost as many years, Egypt has been rocked by huge protests this weekend as the country’s capital, Cairo, witnessed mass demonstrations against the government.

The uprising in Egypt comes as Turkey, Bulgaria, Brazil and Bosnia have all been rocked by major unrest against policies and decisions being made by their ruling political parties.

Each of the uprisings show how a movement in one part of the world can spark similar protests thousands of miles away, mainly because of access to the internet and social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Those taking part are often better connected, better educated and more affluent than any proceeding generations – often they are frustrated at corruption and inefficiency in government.

Social media sites give these protesters thousands of miles apart an insight into launching and organising demonstrations, which would previously never have been possible. For agitators around the globe, the world has never been smaller.

Some regimes have attempted to limit the power of such sites, with Saudi Arabia last week jailing seven so-called “cyber activists” for inciting protests on Facebook.

On Sunday, the national headquarters of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi’s ruling party the Muslim Brotherhood was stormed and then ransacked by anti-government demonstrators, who took to the streets in their millions calling for the country’s leader to step down.

Crowds of people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square over the weekend in the biggest mass demonstration the country has seen since the 2011 revolution, which saw the then Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak deposed.

Although Egypt’s disturbance over the weekend stems from the Arab Spring in 2010-11, it comes at a time when massive uprisings have taken place in other corners of the globe in Turkey, Brazil and also Bulgaria, each galvanised by the other.

Turkey was the first in the latest wave to witness protesters gather en masse against the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. It began when demonstrators staged a sit in at Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park following the government’s decision to build a shopping mall on it.

An attempt to evict the demonstrators sparked massive protests and even led to strikes across the country as the concerns about the government became more wide-ranging, such as freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Turkey’s unrest then directly influenced agitators in Brazil, who were unhappy with the government’s decision to host both the World Cup and the Olympics in 2014 and 2016 respectively. The country is spending billions on the two sporting events, when many in the country believe it should be going toward better healthcare and education.

It led to millions taking to the streets during the Confederations Cup, a friendly international football tournament that finished yesterday.

The movement has broadened out,bringing people out against deeper issues in Brazil around perceived corruption within the establishment.

Fuelled – in part at least – by the power of social media, it looks increasingly likely that governments around the world are going to have to get used to demonstrations challenging their very existence on a regular basis.


  • What are protests and what do people hope to achieve by holding them?
  • Social media can "spark protests". In what other ways is social media a powerful force in the world today?
  • Why do you think that some governments have begun jailing "cyber activists"?
  • Find out about a famous protest in history that helped to bring about change. Write down five facts about it to share with the class.

Related resources

The Arab Spring

  • Explore the background behind the Egyptian uprising with this presentation and lesson plan to introduce the Arab Spring.

Forms of protest

  • Are all forms of protest acceptable? Students express their opinions with this writing frame.

What is a protest?

  • A scheme of work, suitable for 11-14-year-old students, about protesting and what makes an effective protest, includes an assessment task on political cartoons.

Examples of protesting

  • Help pupils understand how protesting has changed over the last 50 years with this citizenship lesson with different case studies.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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