I can’t help but feel spirited support for the protests that are going on in Egypt right now. The diverse voices (at least for Egypt diverse) in Tahrir Square in Cairo, and in many other cities in Egypt, demanding political change and voice, demanding the stepping down of Mubarak and his regime, speak to the piece of me that yearns for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to choose and be for all peoples.
After the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, the square was named Midan Tahrir, Liberation Square. It is in the center of downtown Cairo, always busy with traffic. I walked this square 30 years ago, just before Sadat’s assassination. In fact, just a few days after I left Egypt, Sadat was assassinated and Mubarak came to power.
I am faithfully following the Huffington Post, communicating.across.boundaries, Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera. I listen to Egyptians who are flushed with excitement, bold, confident, committed. Tired of the corruption and the oppression, tired of the lack of economic prospects, they are now, in the glow of protest, full of hope and possibilities. Yet the journey they are on is fraught with danger too. How will a transition take place that will ensure that the tolerance for and voices of all will be sustained and maintained? Who exactly are the power-brokers? What will prevent another autocrat, or the military, or a fundamentalist regime to fill the vacuum? How will we, the US, play the fine (or not so fine) line of our role?
I remain glued to this unfolding story. Tunisia, Egypt—and now other rumblings are emerging in the Mideast. How will this affect the balance and quality of power relationships there and globally? What will be the impact of this new face of the Middle East? How well will the Egyptians, and the rest of the world, navigate these waters?
“Anyone who believes in true democracy should advocate for Egypt by calling elected officials to apply pressure on Mubarak to resign. He needs to go. Pray that he goes!” said one protester.
Thirty years later, I still walk Midan Tahrir.
*This morning I woke to the violent change from the last nine days…. A blogger (communicating.across.borders) whose daughter is in Cairo, got this email, the first in weeks, from her daughter:
They’ve blocked texting. It’s confirmed that they’ll be shutting off phone lines tomorrow, and as yet unconfirmed that they’ll cut out internet access completely. Right now I’m only getting internet access intermittently. I can’t access Facebook and only Twitter through a proxy. There are also rumors of live ammunition. This could be an out and out massacre so it’s crucial that you spread the word to everyone you know and tell them to do what they can- contact their representatives, bombard their Egyptian embassies and consulates with faxes and phone calls, pressure their local news media.