Is there really anything else to talk about today?
Spending the last two days again listening to the audio from Al Jazeera English I heard their voices loud and clear. On day 17 (yesterday) word spread that the end was near and their demands would be met. People poured back into Tahrir Square to celebrate & wait the official word. As they waited and rumors swirled and stories changed, their joy was palpable. They sang, they chanted, they danced, the cheered. Then Mubarak finally spoke. And it was silent as they listened. And then….he gave them nothing. He re-affirmed his position as President. The one “concession” he made was to indicate he was turning the day to day power over the transition to a new President (still not happening until Sept elections) to his newly appointed VP, Omar Suleiman – a man who the people saw as simply another Mubarak puppet. As that message sank in, oh the ANGER! But…this is key…not violent anger…the anger and anguish and disappointment was expressed purely through their voices. The joy I had felt through my ear phones turned so quickly. Checking in to the video I could see hands in the air with the thumbs down symbol and the bottoms of many many held up shoes (the ultimate sign of disrespect in the Arab world). Then I felt fear – what did this mean? What would happen next? The plan had been for a renewed push of demonstrations on Friday to honor the fallen and perhaps to march to the Presidential Palace. Suleiman then spoke and was his usual condescending self again blaming the international media for spurring the uprising and again telling the demonstrators to go home. In the wee hours of the morning the crowds swelled and fear was replaced with determination. They spilled out to the front of the State TV building and peacefully stayed there. Hour by hour their dedicated space to peaceably stay and demonstrate grew larger and larger. Simply with their numbers they were taking over streets in Cairo. As daylight dawned they came out in city after city, large & small. The arrived at the palace where army tanks were stationed. They didn’t try to overtake it, they simply stood outside continuing their chants for Mubarak to GO. By now they knew Mubarak had already fled to his seaside vacation home elsewhere in the country where he usually spent half the year. That was seen as symbolic of his having ceded day to day power to the VP. Word came out that again there would be a ‘Presidential office announcement’. This time they were more subdued. They’d had their hopes dashed a few times over the past 18 days already.
Then it happened. Suleiman came out, and in less than minute, he announced that Mubarak had finally resigned and that control of the government was turned over to the army.
And then! And THEN! Oh, the cheers! I thought I’d felt joy the day before, but this was so intense that it just overpowered me through my head phones.
18 days. 100s dead or wounded at the hands of Mubarak’s state police force. Many journalists from around the world harassed & beaten & detained. Still – it worked – freedom!
That was something amazing to behold.
Remember how I mentioned learning about the Oct 6 bridge and why it had that name? I’m wondering when something will be named the Jan 25 bridge. Or will Tahrir Square become known as Jan 25th square?
All I do know is that from Jan 25th – Feb 11th, the people of Egypt touched the world with their fierce determination.