Mubarak, skinny in his one dark-blue suit, told the protesters in Tahrir Square Thursday night that he was their father. And the protesters took off their shoes to chant, Pharoah, you son-of-a-bitch. You’re no father of ours.
And on Friday, I listened to the jubilant reaction to his resignation coming from Egypt—to the chants of women and men, young and old, Muslim and Christian and atheist. I can’t help but hear a massive Egyptian wedding and soccer game all rolled into one.
On the radio and television and the halls of my university I hear people worrying about “radicals” and what will happen next, and though I agree that the protesters need to hold strong in their determination to live in a free and democratic country, it would be a mistake to miss what’s important here: This is not Iran, or Tunisia, or the Philippines, etc. This is Egypt in 2011, and this revolution ought to be a signal to anyone who still thinks of the Middle East in colonialist terms to accept the new reality. No matter what happens next, nothing will change the fact that the Egyptian people rose up against a brutal dictator and imposed their will on the ruling regime. This overthrow should have other dictators in the region shaking in their boots.
I’ve already gotten a couple of emails from non-Egyptians saying, “It’s finally over!” But Egyptians are aware that this is actually just the beginning. I don’t know what will happen next, only that I hope the protesters will continue to fight for what they deserve: free and fair elections for which Egyptians will turn out and vote and decide their own fates.