Guest Author - Debora Dyess
It all began with a fruit vendor who, frustrated and hopeless with the government in which he lived, set himself afire. His story spread across the country, leading fellow Egyptians to a nonviolent revolution. People gathered by the millions in all major Egyptians calling for their president to leave his office and for the government of the country to change. It lasted eighteen days.
The while time, Egyptian President Mubarak vowed he would not leave his position until the September elections. On Friday, February 11, 2011 he changed his mind and announced, via his vice-president Omar Suleiman, that he was stepping down. Celebration broke out in Egypt and all around the globe. With television coverage tuned to Egypt every day, the world had watched the protests for almost three weeks, waiting on the outcome of the nof for democracy.
The morning of the 11th dawned like those of mornings before it, with literally millions of Egyptians raising the voices, signs and hopes. There was a feeling of expectation and excitement in the air even though the president had announced only the day before that he would not give in to his people’s demands of a new leader. An announcement was scheduled for that day and, hoping against all odds, the people felt their Mubarak, who had left Cairo, was planning to resign.
People in Egypt have been living under Mubarak’s rule for 30 years, longer than many of the protesters have been alive. While the country lives in horrible poverty, with the standard yearly wage there being between $450 and $620 (USD), Mubarak lived in five palaces scattered across the Egyptian landscape. While his people lived without, he lived with plenty.
During the protest, the State run TV station played interviews of people who claimed to be protesters who claimed they’d been bribed by other countries to create chaos in Egypt. They claimed it was a plot against their president and that they were being paid hundreds of dollars to stir up public unhappiness. No one believed them, and on the final day of protest the protesters gathered outside both the Presidential Palace and the State TV station Tanks, soldiers and barbed wire separated the nonviolent objectors from the buildings, but no shots were ever fired. The people began to chant, “The people and the army are one!”
And then it happened. Mubarak was out. Celebration broke out in every corner of the country, with people laughing, crying and dancing in the streets.
The people are excited that the military will step in and run the country for the next six months (until leaders are elected in September). They view that as a step in the right direction. Many of Egypt’s people have never voted in a fair election. So far the military leaders have suspended the constitution and discoved Parliament. They have not yet disbanded the Cabinet, a group of men (mostly Mubarak supporters) who act as advisors for the country.
Wael Ghonim is a Google ad executive who played a major role in planning the revolution through social networking. He was taken into custody the third day of the protest, was released after twelve days of being prisoner, blindfolded and constantly questioned. When asked about Mubarak, he said, “You have done us the best thing ever. You have woke up 18 million people.” (The interview was aired on The Early Show.)