On February 11, 2011, President Mubarak finally resigned, less than 24-hours after he refused the protesters` demand “Go Mubarak Go!” that has been echoing across Egypt for the past two weeks. The euphoria that swept the protestors gathered in Tahrir Square cannot be described in words: all those tuned into al-Jazeera (Arabic or English) around the world witnessed one of the most moving events of our lifetime as Egyptian demonstrators roared in victory over what they had achieved. The reverberations of this historic turn of events are being felt all over the region as Algerians and Yemenis take defiantly to the streets chanting the same slogan that emanated from Egypt: “The People Want the Regime to Fall!” If the Tunisians inspired the Egyptians to rise and scream “Enough!”, then the Egyptians might go down in history for giving a new meaning to Maya Angelou’s prophetic cry at a time when no one expected it:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I rise….I rise. I rise. I rise.”
The question that continues to occupy many observers of Middle East politics is: how could a people chided for their political apathy manage to achieve such an organized and seismic mobilization? How could a country that only a month ago was headed down an escalating path of inter-religious and sectarian strife, unite to create one of the most seismic events of our times in the Arab world? Alexandria, where only a month ago a well-executed car bomb killed twenty-three Christians, has been host to demonstrations in which Copts and Muslims have prayed together, and churches, along with mosques, have served as centers for the congregation of protestors. As millions have poured out on the streets, not one church has been attacked nor a sectarian incident reported. All this despite the fact that the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III, announced his unequivocal support for Mubarak on the first day of protest.
This article is now featured in Jadaliyya`s edited volume entitled Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of An Old Order? (Pluto Press, 2012). The volume documents the first six months of the Arab uprisings, explaining the backgrounds and trajectories of these popular movements. It also archives the range of responses that emanated from activists, scholars, and analysts as they sought to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events. Click here to access the full article by ordering your copy of Dawn of the Arab Uprisings from Amazon, or use the link below to purchase from the publisher.