the sounds of freedom continue to ring thru cairo 24 hrs after hosni mubarak was forced to resign by the awe-inspiring courage, determination & resilience of millions of egyptians who poured in2 the streets in unprecedented numbers for 18 str8 days. after 30 yrs of authoritarian rule, the impossible became possible: the hated dictator has left the country & his notorious police force has all but vanished.
for the tens of thousands who were in tahrir (liberation) square friday pm, the explosive news of mubarak's resignation spread like wildfire; within seconds crowds erupted in2 screams of joy & relief. strangers exchanged congratulatory embraces, their eyes moist with tears of disbelief & pride at the historic change they helped create & witness.
all night long every street in cairo lit with celebrations. people streamed in2 tahrir square from across the colossal city, waving egyptian flags, breaking out in2 dance, poetry & song, their faces bursting with a sweet & unknown delight. loud chants of "the people have brought down the regime" & "hold your head up, you are egyptian" echoed late in2 the night.
egypt's revolutionaries defy trivial generalizations. they are men & women, young & old, rich & poor, educated & illiterate, muslim & copt, atheists & believers, capitalists & workers, peasants & techies, artists & state employees, housewives & professionals, salafists & socialists, long-time activists & apathetic citizens.
after their long night of jubilation the revolutionaries returned to the square saturday, now armed with brooms, garbage bags & a new found sense of national pride. thousands dutifully swept the dusty streets in & around tahrir square, pausing at different intersections to recall the bloody battles with state security & thugs unleashed by mubarak's oppressive regime. others applied a fresh coat of paint to the pavements while talking about the freedoms they wanted to enshrine in their rejuvenated country.
the january 25th uprising in egypt has set an inspiring example to people globally. three days in2 the shift of power tens of thousands of peaceful protesters on cairo's qasr-al-nil bridge shattered the invincibility of egypt's security forces empowered with their bodies & a neo-gandhian fearlessness in the face of extreme brutality. when the panicked regime took the police off the streets to intimidate people in staying at home, the people responded by organizing committees to guard their neighborhoods.
when the regime unleashed hired thugs to stage pro-mubarak demonstrations & attack journalists & pro-democracy protesters in the square, thousands fought back with rocks while others set up make-shift clinics to treat the wounded & distribute blankets, food & water, as well as tents to those inside the square. when state television framed the demonstrators as directed by "foreign elements," folks waved egyptian flags, asserting a patriotic struggle. employees of state media outlets & well-known media personalities soon began to speak out in protest.
challenging mubarak's power has been fatal. according to estimates by the human rights watch & united nations, at least 300 people were killed in the uprising. many others have been detained & possibly tortured by egypt's intelligence & military force. every time mubarak or his recently deputized vice president omar suleiman appeared on television, they expressed contempt for the protesters, announcing piecemeal reforms to try & appease the millions in the streets.
indeed, each day brought a litany of new reasons for the people's frustrations & rage against the regime to swell. but despite the lack of restraint on the part of mubarak's hostile regime, the pro-democracy protesters did not respond to the constant provocations with violence. instead, the diverse & united people in the square delivered periodic chants of "ours is a peaceful revolution, ours is a popular revolution."
18 days of progressive struggle brought power to the people. egypt's revolution was televised but remains far from over. who will shape the post-mubarak era? who will be allowed to guide the transition to civilian rule? as the celebrations in tahrir square continue folks' concerns about the prosperity, restoration & success of egypt are not awash in cynicism. there are more questions than answers. egyptians have tasted the power of a popular uprising whose foremost demand was met & now they can't imagine giving up until all of their conflicts are resolved.
these include the repeal of the emergency law, the dissolution of parliament, constitutional reforms to ensure fair & free elections, the release of all political prisoners & justice for all those killed during the revolution. no one knows how quickly these demands will be met, but affirmed by their monumental victory against mubarak, millions of egyptians now believe if they continue the struggle anything is possible.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.