A great and glorious victory: finally, people power in Eqypt has done it! Congratulations to the people of Egypt for ousting Mubarak, a modern-day Pharaoh.
Mark this day, 11 February 2011 or 11022011. After just 18 days, ordinary disenfranchised people with seemingly no leader, no organisation, managed to topple one of the most authoritarian leaders in the world – one who was backed by the regime’s feared and hated secret police and by the United States with its military aid.
The people, in contrast, had no weapons, no armour apart from the certain knowledge that they were on the side of good and of the downtrodden in their battle with the forces of evil and oppression. They were arrested, teargassed, struck with rocks and batons, beaten, tortured and even shot dead.
As with all the other-US backed dictators, the United States administration stood by ‘its man’ until the ground had opened up under him. Egyptians tossed out all rubbish of “orderly transition” (translation: the political and economic status quo under a new Mubarasque face) and instead courageously stood up to reclaim their rights and restore their dignity.
And now, after 30 years in power, Mubarak is finally out. That should send shivers down the spines of dictators and authoritarian leaders everywhere.
A new dawn beckons for Egypt, a chance for the democracy to blossom. A new era of freedom and dignity.
Egyptians are set for one big all-night party as they celebrate Mubarak’s ouster. “Those who have stolen our happiness and smiles for years have gone,” said an Egyptian law professor over Al Jazeera, as scenes of pure unadulterated joy played out on streets all over Egypt.
People power has triumphed in Egypt, in the process shattering a number of myths: that Arabs are not ready for democracy, that Muslims are inherently more prone to violence, and that Muslims and Christians cannot work together to demand justice and social transformation.
What was unique about this People’s Revolution was that ordinary people around the world followed and participated in it through Facebook, Twitter and Aljazeera, which broke new ground among global television stations covering the crisis.
Allah/God has blessed the people of Egypt and shown his blessings of mercy and justice. The sacrifice of the 350 Egyptians who perished, the over 5,000 injured, in the struggle was not in vain. They will not be forgotten. They reminded us once again that non-violent struggle against incredible odds can bring about glorious results.
As the late historian Howard Zinn wrote:
“There is a basic weakness in governments—however massive their armies, however wealthy their treasuries, however they control the information given to the public—because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists, and writers, and teachers, and artists. When these people suspect they have been deceived, and when they withdraw their support, the government loses its legitimacy, and its power.”
Dictators and authoritarian leaders everywhere – those who torture and oppress their people, those who violate human rights, those who squander and pillage and exploit their people, those who do not know when to quit – should tremble at Mubarak’s ouster.
There are important lessons for Malaysia too, for those who are corrupt and abuse their power while ordinary people suffer, lessons about the real meaning of democracy and social justice.
Now the real work begins in restoring dignity to the people. The council of armed forces takes over for now. Much will depend on how quickly it hands over the reins to civilian rule, sets up democratic institutions, dismantles repressive laws, holds free and fair elections, and restores to civil society its rightful role.
It also has to deal with the corrupt and unjust system. Let’s see what’s going to happen to the Mubarak’s family fortune which could reach US$70 billion. Let’s hope Mubarak and his side-kick, the ‘torturer-in-chief’ Omar Suleiman, are brought to justice.
For now, though, the entire world joins in in the celebration of democracy and the display of people power in Egypt. It’s the re-birth of a great nation and the flowering of democracy in the region and elsewhere.