Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt, Freedom, and Happy Tears: One American's Reflection on Egypt's Peaceful Revolution

I am finally feeling human again, after 2 weeks of bronchitis and then flu - thus the lack of posts, my fellow Politicos. And while I was sick, I had very little energy to do much, other than zone out on the TV and sleep, sleep and sleep. The only good thing about being sick as a dog was that it happened to be during the time of the Egyptian protests - the birth of a new democracy in the most unlikely of places. And I had the luxury of a front seat, via MSNBC and Al Jazeera, of the second wave of the Tunisian Tsunami sweeping through the Middle East. Imagine that - democracy without a foreign occupation by U.S. "liberators," a revolution "of, by and for the people" of Egypt.

I was captivated immediately by the spirit of the Egyptian people, all whom seemed better educated and more fluent in their English spelling than our own Tea Partiers; signs read, "Removal of The Regime," and "The Will of The People!" The Mubarak regime sent out armed thugs, and the people's response? Set up medical clinics in Tahrir Square for the injured. Peaceful protests continued once more. The free press was beaten and arrested, their cameras, cellphones and equipment confiscate or destroyed. Yet broadcasts continued, showing this shame to the rest of the world. The internet was shut down, cell reception was crippled. The techies of Egypt formed alternative networks to communicate with each other. And all the while, the people continued and their masses grew. Tents sprouted up in the Square. Markets appeared. The mood in the Square was described over and over as a carnival atmosphere - tents appeared, food vendors, barbers set up shop, and it was pretty obvious, even to the casual, cold-medicated observer that these folks were in it for the long haul.

Then came the moment in which I knew, with absolute certainty, that the Egyptian protesters had what it takes to remake their government and force Mubarak out:
Amazing, iconic photo by @NevineZaki on Twitter
Christians faced outward, linking hands, to protect their Muslim brothers. Later in the day, Muslims joined hands to protect Christians celebrating the Mass. That was it, for me, that was the moment. That is when I was certain that the will of the Egyptian people would persevere over the dictator. If a citizenry can have such respect for each other's faith as to form a human shield to protect each other in prayer, then, by God, they can build a representative government that protects the interests of all of Egypt's people. It gave me goosebumps and made me teary, seeing the unity and respect they had for each other, and at that moment, I had no doubt that they would prevail.

Last night, as I was driving home from a friend's house, I was listening to NPR. They were reading tweets and Facebook posts from Egyptians. Joy, elation, hope. One man spoke of the "high" he and his friends had, hearing for the first time in their lives that they have an ex-President. Never had that been a reality. He spoke of his two year old, and the baby he and his wife were expecting, and the relief and joy of knowing that he would be able to provide for his children a better life, "a new Egypt," in a democratic country where his children can have faith that their voices will be heard. I was teary the rest of the way home. What a powerful thought for one parent to convey to another so far away, his voice so full of hope for his children that it brings tears to my eyes. 

Rachel, as always, summarizes brilliantly why we Americans tend to be verklempt over this joyous uprising:

We are in an historic time, witness to the birth of new democracies all throughout the Middle East, not just in Egypt, though it's has been the most remarkable thus far. Despite all the efforts to keep out Western influences throughout history, the one thing that could not be kept out is the will to be a free people. It lives in the heart of every individual, and cannot be kept at bay. Congratulations to our Egyptian brothers and sisters on their steadfast determination to create their own version of democratic rule. They have a long way to go, but from what I have seen of their character thus far, there is no doubt they will achieve their goal.

What did you think, fellow Politicos, were the most striking moments of the protest thus far? What's your prognosis for an Egyptian democracy? Join the conversation here at Momma Politico!