Cairo Update – 24 Hours and a World of Change

Aljazeera reported 3 million Egyptians in the streets of Egypt waited 7 hours to hear what the army and the new head of the NDP suggested would be Mubarak’s resignation speech. They were stunned when he insisted on by Mubarak’s non-resignation speech last night. Incensed by his speech, and only half way through it, they defiantly waved their shoes in the air. And yet they remained peaceful I don’t know how they did it.

Today there are a million people in and around Tahrir Square and noon prayers have not even started.

Communiqué #2 from the Armed Forces Central Command

The military assures the people of Egypt that it will:
Insure repeal of Emergency Laws and the enforcement of free and fair elections
Monitor the steps to a peaceful transition.
Release the arrested demonstrators AND
Calls on all Egyptians to return to work and resume their everyday lives.

This means the military’s upper echelon essentially stands by the regime. The question is will the middle and lower ranks do so? So far 25 of its members have turned in their arms and publically stood with the demonstrators.

The muezzin is calling noon prayers.

I’ll keep you posted.

P.S. Adel Eltafti, former deputy minister for foreign affairs, said that Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman are mentally incompetent to stand for trial and should be referred to a committee of mental health experts instead! I think they since they’re armed and dangerous to self and others someone needs to bring them in.

Feb 11th 2011 – evening

It happened in a minute.

My young companion, Mohammed’s phone rang as my grandson, Philip, exited Cairo airport’s arrival gate. “Mubark’s resigned! He’s resigned!” we hollered–not “Hi Philip, it’s great to see you.” We left the airport high-fiving and thumbs-upping every which way. Fifty people had gathered round our driver and his car radio. We drove to Tahrir Square horn-honking the celebratory rhythm associated with winning soccer games–the only occasions Egyptians have had to celebrate for 30 years. We passed cars flying huge Egyptian flags and large eight-wheelers with blaring horns. The road filled with cars as we reached city center; people calling out, “Mabruk” (congratulations) and waving peace signs out the windows.

I’d planned on taking Philip to Tahrir to join the protestors. I thought they’d go on for days. But, one minute did it. Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak was leaving and we rushed to Tahrir to celebrate instead! A crowd of millions; not an inch of pavement to be seen. Flags everywhere. Children on their parent’s shoulders. Young women in pony-tails; many more in hijabs; a few in full face veils. Young men and old. Egyptian people; peaceful people stretching further than the eye could see.

We stood near a group from an outlying oasis chanting to the rhythms of Bedouin songs. An almost toothless old man from Upper Egypt, a farmer in galabeya, skull-cap and wool scarf had been in the Square for a week. A middle aged lawyer who’d been at every Lawyer Syndicate demonstration had been in Tahrir every day of the 18 days. “This should have happened long ago,” he told me. “We let him do it. We made him who he is. Not anymore.” He was still coughing from the tear-gas he’d inhaled. The young man next to him pulled out his cell phone with pictures 40 pellets in his back and head. But this was a night of celebration. “Everything was worth it, il hamdu liallah—Thanks to God.”

To those who worry about an Islamist take-over. Please don’t reduce these great people to that. And to those who worry about a military one. The chants were: “Civilian. Civilian. Not military rule!”

Feb 12th

Today was the start of the new era. Everyone turned out to clean up the Square. By the time my cousin, her daughter and our grandchildren arrived with garbage bags and candy, almost every scrap of rubbish had been picked up. Young people proudly polished the lions statues at the entrance to Kasr il Nil Bridge. Others washed off the “Mubarak must leave” graffiti from the walls under them. They brought tears to my eyes.

The message is: We will clean up Egypt! The next steps are forming a civilian interim governing committee, writing a temporary constitution, taking it to referendum, electing a new parliament and then a president. And yes we can! Which reminds me—please thank Obama for his great speech in support of what we did in Egypt. I think we should nominate the country of Egypt for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Amal Sedky Winter
Cairo

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