Egypt is off the hook right now. I am watching the jubilant celebrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Al Jazeera English’s amazing live feed. The field reporters have more or less given up, because they can be barely heard over the cheers, shouts and screams of the partying crowd.
After a 30-year reign, Hosni Mubarak has resigned as the President of Egypt.
I have never followed Egyptian politics, nor do I know much about Mubarak and his regime. And yet as the people of Egypt celebrate this victory I find myself celebrating with them. The footage of the hundreds and thousands of people in Liberation Square brings tears to my eyes; there is something just so incredibly wonderful about people coming together to fight for what they believe in. They have stood their ground in peaceful protest for 18 days – and they have won.
If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.
Sure, anyone can point out that after this moment of unfettered jubilation things could turn to custard and get really bad. There could be a power struggle, the opposition party might not be strong enough, the military might not be dependable, etc. etc. We could be headed to more instability and trouble in the Middle East, and things could get really difficult. Egypt’s troubles are not over yet.
And of course that’s all possible, but this moment that we are all going to remember. The Egyptian people have come together and taken ownership of their country, and they have won the opportunity to rebuilt their nation into the home they want to live in. People power has won tonight, and it’s not something that’s going to be quickly forgotten. After having had this victory, I don’t think they are going to sit back and let their country go to the dogs any time soon, are they?
When we were in Bangladesh, we saw a village where their padi fields had been overrun by shrimp cultivation, the villagers poor and landless. We also saw a village in an area where shrimp cultivation had been banned – the people weren’t rich, but they had ownership over their own land. We were told that it was possible because the villagers in that second area had organised and protested, and reclaimed power over their land. “People’s power,” I kept hearing. “It was the people’s power that did it.” And Egypt has demonstrated tonight that it is true.
What a great lesson for us all.
I don’t mean that we should all start taking to the streets with megaphones and placards (although that might be what rocks your boat). But we should start taking ownership of our lives and the society we live in. After all, who will speak for us if we aren’t willing to speak for ourselves?
This might be clichéd, but we have to be the change we want to see.
And here’s a shout-out to the Internet and social media for the part it played in the revolution:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWnJ6hS7H7k&feature=player_embedded] Egypt is off the hook right now. I am watching the jubilant celebrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Al Jazeera English’s amazing live feed. The field reporters have more...