Euphoria in Cairo as Mubarak steps down after 17 days of protests

I was just leaving Tahrir Square with my friend Eman, when we heard a roar of elation rising from the square. We looked at each other excitedly.

“What happened?” Eman asked.

We rushed to the nearest shop, a bakery, to look at the TV. The owner told us that Mubarak had stepped down. We ran out to the street and joined in the celebrations, jumping up and down and cheering. We joined the crowds running to the square.

Tahrir square was heaving with a writhing mass of celebrants and a sea of Egyptian flags. People were cheering, “Allah Akbar,” “God is the Greatest.” There was singing and dancing, praying and fireworks, and of course drums. A party wouldn’t be a party in Egypt without the obligatory drums. The atmosphere was akin to a rock festival or football match, only better.

Someone had music blaring from speakers and his son of around two years danced to the music. A local youth danced in an Egyptian style on a table outside a fatir* shop. A young girl of around five years danced on the bonnet of a car.

Many of the people I spoke to told me how Mubarak had left the Egyptian citizens without dignity and how before the revolution they wanted to move to Europe or America and become citizens of another country.

“There was no dignity in my country,” Wael, a merchandiser for Tesco Egypt, 28 told me. “The police could stop me at anytime and I was unable to speak. Foreigners get more respect than me in my own country.”

Chartered Accountant, Mohamed Kassem, has been at Tahrir since January 25th with his wife and two sons, ages 11 and 8. Every night he has slept in his car, close to the square, while his wife and children come and go.

“Tonight I am very, very happy. Before I didn’t want to be Egyptian, now I’m proud to be Egyptian. Mubarak left the Egyptian people without dignity. Other countries don’t respect the Egyptian people.”

Angie Balata, who is normally an Outreach Officer, 32, has been demonstrating since 26th January. She told me that she was inspired by the mass uprising and that the youth have given hope to all the people in Egypt, “Tonight I feel euphoric pride….Egypt has just gone down in history. We have regained our glory. It feels good to be Egyptian.”

Around 9.45 a spokesperson announced, “We will leave the square. Promise that if something happens you know your way back to Tahrir”.

Celebrations continued all over the country throughout the night and the next day.

As for me, I am not Egyptian but I wish I were. I am so proud of the Egyptian people and the fact that so much was achieved with predominantly peaceful protests. My heart is filled with love and pride. It’s now time to clean up and rebuild the country and the economy. Long live Egypt. I flipping love you.


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