‘Let my People Go!’ Moses said to a stubborn Pharoah before the exodus. Maybe Mubarak was this Pharoah in a previous life. Is it something about Egypt’s rulers that they just don’t listen? But this time, Egypt’s people stayed and the ruler had to go. Nice. I tuned into the news tonight to be greeted by the glad news that President Mubarak had finally beetled off leaving his deputy to make the announcement. Isn’t that so typical… bullies are such cowards, consistently. He didn’t even have the guts to look his long-suffering, pissed-off nation in the camera and say ‘Okay you win. I’m off. Thanks for the billions in Switzerland, it’s been nice.’
And the people themselves – I’m reading incredible things on Facebook. There’s been a welling up of plain, common, old-fashioned decency, love and respect for others during this stressful time. This has been a revolution the like of which has never been seen or heard of before. Yes, a few people died, but far fewer than is normally the case in similar situations. Even though their numbers were few, the loss to their families must be incredibly painful, especially tonight when the whole city is going ballistic with joy and their loved ones were hugely responsible for that joy. Young men, some of them really just boys, showed incredible courage, holding their positions at the barricades in the face of intense bombardment, great suffering and some deaths. They were duly saluted for their courage in the same speech in which the representative of the military acknowledged what Mubarak had done for Egypt. There was this ‘seeing of both sides’, an even-handed respect and honour… I was fascinated.
Here’s one paragraph out of a piece I read on Facebook tonight:
As the Revolution took longer and longer to accomplish the mission of bringing down the regime, protestors themselves began to spend more time highlighting other accomplishments, such as how new ethics were emerging precisely amidst chaos. Those evidenced themselves in a broadly shared sense of personal responsibility for civilization—voluntary street cleaning, standing in line, the complete disappearance of harassment of women in public, returning stolen and found objects, and countless other ethical decisions that had usually been ignored or left for others to worry about.
Read more here if you like: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/561/the-egyptian-revolution_first-impressions-from-the-field_updated-
It’s going to take a while to absorb all this. It was profoundly moving to watch. Obama’s speech was as impressive as all his speeches are, if not more so; he cited other uprisings for the common good, he mentioned Gandhi, he mentioned Martin Luther King and the fall of the Berlin wall … he did not mention the South African struggle and the miracle Mandela and his counterparts wrought. It was a very loud omission, to my mind.
Is it because our miracle has become a laughing stock in the eyes of the world? Witness the utterances of our current president: (the following bit is from here.)
Speaking in Zulu, he said: ‘When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven.
‘When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork, who cooks people.
‘When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven.’
I hope he may one day have cause to know what Mubarak knows tonight – the people aren’t as stupid or as patient as you think.