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February 12, 2011

“Egypt is free!”

Roy Meachum

After waiting long hours, the huge crowds in Cairo and Alexandria were on their way to Friday evening prayers when Hosni Mubarak’s recently selected vice president announced, in a single sentence, the regime was dead.


Great parties and celebrations exploded on the Nile River, its Delta and along the Suez Canal; tens of thousands shouted repeatedly: “Egypt is free! Egypt is free!”


Protesters danced with soldiers, sometimes on the tanks. Guns pointed toward the demonstrators the sundown before were – that very morning – dramatically aimed for the sky. Thousands cheered. The jubilation lasted all night and into Saturday morning.


Fears the protestations might turn violent, prompting troops to crack Egyptian heads, were based on fears and denigrating the men, women and children who brought about the miraculous outcome. Few seemed to understand, like all successful revolution, these 18 days of events were started and led by the middle class.


Another startling example of the fears? America’s Founding Fathers created a republic, not a democracy. The plantation owners and business entrepreneurs, like Benjamin Franklin, did not trust farmers and workers, so they wrote a Constitution that favored the colonies’ upper class. The right-wing push to return to the original document reflects those fears. Exactly.


Being prejudiced against anyone belonging to Islam, Rush Limbaugh and his gang have no trust in people, certainly not the Egyptians. They warned since the protests started, on January 25, the crowds in the street were ripe to be picked off by the Muslim Brotherhood. They have certainly no idea what the protests were about. And certainly no concept of the modern organization. Violence was rejected nearly 60 years ago and replaced by determination they could best win support through school, clinics, food and other charitable programs.


The Brotherhood won 20 percent of the national legislature in the previous election watched over by international observers; since all independent parties were banned, voters seized on known brothers (and sisters) although they were forbidden to claim any political allegiance.


President Mubarak’s ruling New Democratic Party took no chances last year; it vetoed all countries’ request to witness the electoral process. Regime thugs arrested potential candidates; threw more than several into jails, at least until the elections were over.


Ignore all prophets who warn dark and dire days (and nights) lie ahead. They don’t know. No one does. While optimism might not be warranted, pessimism is doomed to drown in its own meaningless.


As Abraham Lincoln said: “The people. Yes, the people.”


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