I’m watching the jubilation on Al Jazeera Television on the laptop as they celebrate Hosni Mubarak’s resignation from the presidency, the end of three decades of a dictatorship that has left the majority of Egyptians disenfranchised. All I can think as I see the crowds in Tahrir Square lighting firecrackers and cheering in unison is I wish I was there to celebrate this new beginning. The will of the people won. And the day in which it happened, Februray 12, may not be completely a coincidence. On the same day 32 years ago in 1979, the people of Iran marched in the tens of thousands celebrating the overthrow of their monarchy and welcoming what they thought was a democratic government. They were in for a cruel surprise. That Islamic government of Iran now arrests, tortures and silences its people, who again are demanding freedom and justice. While Iran hails Egypt’s success in overthrowing Mubarak, the Iranian establishment has killed thousands who protested the rigged elections in 2009 that reinstalled President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Will this be Egypt’s fate?
But I push away my skepticism for Egypt. Afterall, it’s a new generation, a new era of globalization when young people are more aware and in touch, and perhaps this people’s revolution will result in a government for the people.
In 1979, I was 6 years old living in Kandahar with my family and the communists had overtaken Afghanistan. My father listened to BBC Farsi as my family gathered around the radio to hear the excitement of the Iranian people when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran and became the new leader of the country. The Iranian Army joined the people as the Shah stepped down. Now I can see the excitement on the Egyptians’ faces on the screen, victory etched in their smiles and gleaming eyes, a shared sense of freedom. Egyptians’ words echo the Iranians of 32 years ago: freedom, justice, democracy. The happiness is contagious. The Al Jazeera correspondent is trying hard to contain her enthusiasm as she reports from the scene in the midst of an elated crowd. “People are crying, fainting … distributing candy,” the reporter says. “Egyptians broke the fear factor.”
It’s time to stop fearing the future and put faith in a new era, if just for today.
“Tonight, let’s celebrate and then tomorrow, we can think of what’s next.” Rania, a protestor on the streets of Cairo, tells Al Jazeera.
I’m with you Rania.