We had to wait a long time since the fall of the Berlin Wall for another such great stride forwards in the worldwide march for freedom and democracy. I feel lucky and privileged to have witnessed these scenes, even if only on television. What joy on the faces and in the voices of the Egyptian people, whose legitimate aspiration for fundamental freedoms have for so long been denied under Mubarak’s corrupt and very nasty rule.
It is the right and wish of all but the most perverse of Humans to seek self-determination and some sort of say in how their lives are run. At last, the Egyptians can look forward to these basic freedoms enjoyed by us in Europe. No, democracy is not perfect and Yes, it has in many places been perverted, including by the evil power of money in the USA and elsewhere. But there truly IS no alternative. Otherwise you end up being “ruled” by senile old men seeking to impose their corrupt family dynasty on an entire country.
The media coverage has been brilliant, including by Al Jezeera, who have impressed me greatly. But there were SO MANY articulate, young Egyptians speaking with such fervour about their longing for freedom. It was truly inspiring. And thank GOD this has put paid to all that total rubbish about the Middle East not being “ready for democracy”, about democracy not being “in the culture” of the Middle East. OF COURSE it isn’t “part of their culture” because they’ve NEVER BEEN ALLOWED IT. But by God they are loving the smell of it.
I am not Egyptian, but what the people en masse have done – led of course mainly by the young – has been AMAZING and has inspired me to visit the country, even to learn Arabic. Egypt is by far the most important country in the Middle East, despite the great wealth of the fascist plutocratic family dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. What a fantastic change this could bring to that area; how nervously the leaders of the other nasty, kleptomaniac and oppressive states in the region must be looking over their shoulders! Who would have expected this just three weeks ago? Can we hope that this will inspire others to seize their day?
- This was truly a people’s revolution – no demagogic leaders, no bitter factionalist rivalry; the efforts to demonize the Muslim Brotherhood failing totally.
- The protesters eschewed violence, though this would have been legitimate to overthrow a fascist regime.
- I salute the ordinary workers; it may well have been their striking en masse that persuaded the generals that this was not just a students’ protest that could be “kettled” into Tahrir Square until it petered out through exhaustion.
- The army stayed largely neutral, even though it is clear that the senior officers felt a deep sense of duty towards their long-time President – and of course they are for the most part heavily implicated in the vast network of corruption that Mubarak built up. One suspects they began to feel their junior officers become restless at the ridiculous and dangerous impasse, particularly after Mubarak’s surreally-out-of-touch speech of the previous evening.
- Mubarak’s staying in the country does him some honour at least.
- Switzerland is rumoured to have frozen his assets held there, though some would say not before time.
They have been very reticent, yet all those who love freedom should rejoice at what has happened. Israel cannot survive with honour and simultaneously have a fascist leader as a “staunch ally”. I hope Egypt maintains the Peace Treaty, but that they open the border to Gaza; Israel’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians has got to end.
Other dictatorships? We know that China jammed search-engine queries containing the word “Egypt”, but how did this go down in, for example, Cuba? The Egyptian solution will not of course work everywhere; in Cuba and elsewhere it is hardly likely that the army would declare itself to be “on the side of the people”; on the contrary, it would no doubt end up shooting them. Still, we live in hope, as no doubt many Cubans do.
Tomorrow we will awake to a different and – for the moment – better Middle East. This was a day to rank with November 9th, 1989, even July 14th, 1789. Let us pray that it all works out more as in the 1990s than in the 1790s.