Walk like an Egyptian, Roar like a Lion

February 1, 2011 at 14:27 (Middle East, Millennial Generation, Resistance, Revolution) (, , , , , , )

From fear to defiance,  from violence to festivities: in an unprecedented display of bravery, the people of Egypt rose like lions to change the fate of their nation.

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By Jerome E. Roos

It all started exactly a week ago, when tens of thousands of young protesters —  inspired by the ‘Jasmin Revolution’ in Tunisia – organized themselves via Facebook to take to the streets of Cairo on ‘National Police Day‘, demonstrating against rampant unemployment, sky-rocketing food prices, widespread government corruption, brutal police oppression and Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule over the country.

While the mainstream media struggled to recognize the importance of the initial protests, members of the millennial generation around the world realized that the next Arab revolution had just begun. In a frantic explosion of global solidarity, people everywhere relayed their support for the young Egyptian revolutionaries over Twitter and Facebook. It wasn’t until two days later that the mainstream media and world leaders finally began to catch up.

By that time, the ever-swelling ranks of the protest movement had been clashing violently with police for days on end. Yet the violent crackdown of Mubarak’s security apparatus only appeared to further embolden the protesters. All fear had been shed: children, men, women — Muslims, Christians, atheists — all transcended their sectarian and ideological differences and rose up in unison to assert their essential oneness and demand their rights as human beings.

By Friday, the fearless people of Egypt had overwhelmed the largest and best-organized police force in the Arab world. In a truly epic day-long stand-off on Kasr al-Nil Bridge, tens of thousands of protesters defied an army of policemen to take the bridge and break through security lines to liberate Liberation Square — the global epicenter of the 21st century struggle for freedom and social justice; today’s equivalent of the 1789 Bastille.

By Saturday, police had all but disappeared from the streets of Egypt’s major cities. In a truly unbelievable display of the fundamental goodness of human nature, citizens immediately started self-organizing. Protesters of all walks of life — businessmen, street vendors, religious clerks, veiled women and students — formed a 3,000-strong human chain around the Museum of Antiquities to prevent looters from ransacking the pride of the nation.

Before long, Mubarak’s thugs were back on the streets — looting and causing mayhem to discredit the revolution and incite fear among those who had stayed at home. But all the King’s men and all the King’s horses could not put Humpty Dumpty back together. Citizens everywhere set up local security committees, armed themselves and took turns to protect their neighbors from the state-sponsored criminal gangs. The people had become the police.

The next morning, volunteers popped up everywhere providing water, food and tents to protesters. Mosques opened their doors to serve as makeshift hospitals and doctors volunteered their services to the wounded. Music could be heard and Egyptian poetry was being recited in the streets and squares, while hundreds of poor people took up broomsticks to sweep the dusty streets of Cairo, symbolically wiping off the dirt of Mubarak’s thirty years in power.

By Sunday, losing grip of the situation and realizing that the army — which had been moved in to replace police forces and keep order in the streets — would take the side of the people and not use force to quell their uprising, Mubarak decided to make one last stand. Two fighter jets were sent to fly over Liberation Square at extremely low altitude in order to intimidate protesters and impress the farcical and near-comical idea upon the people that the regime was still in control.

But it was too little, too late. Having successfully taken the streets, the people of Egypt had shed all fear. Al Jazeera reported that “everytime an army fighter jet flew over Tahrir square, there was a deafening and defiant roar from the crowds.” For all those who had remained skeptical in the face of these historic events, the thundering roar of the Egyptian people finally brought home the realization that no army could stop the yearning of a people.

Or, to paraphrase Victor Hugo, “you can stop an invasion of armies, but you can’t stop an idea whose time has come.”

Yet Mubarak, oblivious to the fact that his days are numbered, still chooses to bide his time. Perhaps hoping that the protests will dwindle over time, the dictator has made a handful of cosmetic changes to his evil regime, sacking the government and appointing his intelligence chief as Vice President. But despite the swelling resistance to and waning legitimacy of his regime, Mubarak has vowed to stay in power.

Today, right when it seemed that the uprising couldn’t get any more legendary, the leaderless revolution called for a general strike and a million man march. Absolutely historic images relayed by Al Jazeera showed over two million people gathered in Liberation Square, demanding the President to step down immediately and pledging not to leave the streets until he does.

Mubarak, hanging by a thread, now finds the forces of history conspiring against him. His public announcement tonight — that he would not run for re-election, but that he would not step down either — was met by yet another defiant roar from the people. “Leave! Leave! Leave!” chanted the masses in unison. Let it be clear that these people won’t back down until the President gets out. At this point there is simply no way back.

And so Egypt finds itself on the cusp of a historical transformation. The Sfinx has risen like a phoenix from its ashes and the youth continues to roar like a lion in its challenge of the old patriarch. The revolution is in full swing. Insha’allah.

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6 Comments

  1. Julian Scutts said,

    As a student of history I see two striking parallels with the present situation in Egypt. One, the one so many others have drawn, is with the early stage of the French Revolution up to the storm of the Bastille. The other is with the peaceful revolution that centred on Leipzig before the fall of the Berlin wall. In the first case the strategy adopted by Louis XVI uncannily resembles that which President Mubarak may well be devising – that is to make reassuring noises while organising a crackdown on those agitating for change. What provoked the storming of the Bastill after all? Rumours that the king was encircling Paris with military forces ready to crust the revolutionaries and also the sacking of Necker the liberal minister of state. Mubarak the prevaricator? Let’s hope the Leipzig model prevails!

  2. The Great Liberal Betrayal of the Arab Revolutionary Spirit « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] I: The Revolutionary Wave of 2011? Part II: Walk like an Egyptian, Roar like a Lion Part III: The Great Liberal Betrayal Part IV: The Death of the Neoliberal Project Part V: The [...]

  3. The Revolutionary Wave of 2011? « Reflections on a Revolution said,

    [...] on the Revolution in Egypt: Part I: The Revolutionary Wave of 2011? Part II: Walk like an Egyptian, Roar like a Lion Part III: The Great Liberal Betrayal Part IV: The Death of the Neoliberal Project Part V: The [...]

  4. Asil said,

    to show my view as a 15-year-old egyptian protester , he is a dictatorship with all evidences please give me a space to show you how the delay is in egypt by taking on the other side that the egyptian people must be the richest due to the presence of sues canal and the egyptian cotton also nile river
    a year ago a crosser was carrying over 1300 person was crossing the red sea to go saudi arbia it drawn in the sea within seven hours with no help despite sending lots of helping calls ,the owner escaped to another country before the crosser leave egypt because he had insured the ship and insured the 1300 life on it too, after this the court ruled not guilty and the guilty one was the sailor who drawn in the see
    17 million still can’t write nor read
    The unemployment rate reached 51% of the campaign higher qualifications
    the unemployment rate in general reached more than 10.30% the highest rate in the world
    47% under the poverty line
    more than 10% Infected with Hepatitis C
    and more than the third infected with liver diseases
    more than 104 suicide attempt yearly and more than 565 homeless children
    13 million youth still unmarried including 7 million over 50
    9 million unmarried girl over 30
    240 cases of divorces and it’s to reach over 2,5 divorced women and it’s the highest in the world
    47% are smokers
    30% of the preparatory pupils are smokers
    In 2010 about 70 thousand cases in this year alone, including a 5000 incident and a waste of public funds and embezzlement of 1300 incident
    9.8% of the total population of Egypt, or nearly 8 million Egyptians used drugs
    add to all that millions and millions Detainees because of the emergency law for each of the rears his beard in order to fight the religion of islam
    any one speaks about police like Palestine,america and Israel is taken as a detainee
    stealing people’s money and divide them, Mubarak’s wealth reaches 70 billion dollar,while foreign egyptian dept are 30 billion dollars
    selling gas for israel with third the global price and that make me as all the people so frustrated and angry (Israel was and still our furious enemy as all arabs)
    I’m proud to witness such an evolution and take part of it because when my kids in the future ask me : mumy!, what was your role in the greatest evolution ever since pharaohs age? I’m going to answer them (I gave my life priceless to death just to make Egypt high as all the arab countries affected by us and copied us and because of our evolution we kicked israel out of Plasticine after then ) say Ameeeen

    • Jérôme E. Roos said,

      Thank you Asil, for your elaborate and insightful reply. You are very right in your analysis and the facts you sum up are frightening. I stand in sympathy and solidarity with you and your people these days, and wish you all the strength, wisdom and perseverance of the world to overthrow this dictator and create an Egypt run by the Egyptian people! This is your great uprising, a grand revolution, and the whole world is watching you with great hope and inspiration. Don’t give up, keep on fighting for your rights so that one day — like you said — you can tell your children you were a part of the change!

      • Asil said,

        I do really appreciate this, thank you Mr. jerome, believe me, I saw there the old man who couldn’t just walk , stop two tanks by his well, sitting under the treads of the tank to prevent them to get in the square, I saw men wearing their shroud introducing themselves to death, any way we can’t stop our evolution now, or else all the organizers and protesters in this evolution their end would be in the detainee Tortured tougher punishment, I’m not exaggerating!

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