12. Editorial: Egypt has had its 2/11

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It will probably only much later that we will understand what a pivotal role the peaceful protests in Tahrir square played for the transformation of an entire region which is still developing.

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Today, on Friday Febr. 18 as I am writing these lines the thrill has worn off a bit, but the remembrance is still fresh in everyone's memory.

We have witnessed one of the greatest things that could ever happen in Egypt, which even just a half a year ago no one would have dreamed.

That a people were willing to stand together and fight until death to shake off the joke of supression and fight for full freedom in the broadest sense. That they would not let themselves be separated. Women and men, young and old, Muslim and Christian, poor and middle class stood together side by side willing to stand it through peacefully.

Many facets remind me, a German born in 1953, of the fall of the Berlin Wall under similar circumstances in Nov. 1989. Here and there it was ultimately that people would simply stand it no longer; the power of peaceful protest and last not least the power of prayer of those who believe which brought the downfall of the regime.

And so it continues, spreading throughout the region. A fire which cannot be quenched or stamped out, but which sets the hopes of peoples alight which simply have endured it much too long. The dawn, or rather the dusk of dictatorship is close at hand. The harsh reactions of the regimes in Libya, Bahrain and Iran show how terribly they fear what they see coming, but probably cannot avert, but can only postpone by massive bloodshed.

This reminds us what Egypt was spared and what could have come, as well as what we should be forever thankful for.

More than 350 people have been killed, mourned as martyrs. Naturally every single death is one too many, but we are happy that it wasn't many more.

There are many reasons it could have gone terribly wrong, such as if

  • the police had started shooting at the crowd like they used to in the past
  • the army had set their tanks rolling and simply "squashed" the uprising
  • people had been trampled down in the rush

We are thankful and we are proud that it's over now. That on Friday 11th February President Mubarak finally resigned and that the transition of power to the military was smooth and quick without the chance for further chaos.

Of course the events have taken a heavy toll on the Egyptian economy, the effects of which will probably not be evident until later on this year. Tourists have fled the country in their thousands and left hotels empty and people without much needed jobs.

But not only tourists have gone. Up to February 11th there was a massive exodus of foreigners of many nations, who left the country for fear of chaos. Many of them were specialists working in pivotal roles which cannot easily be replaced.

AWR's office also paid a high toll as it was suddenly and without warning left without management and access to funds. We had to turn to foreigners living abroad to keep up the reporting at a basic level. This is reflected by all articles of this week which I have taken the liberty to term the "week of wrath" because this was what really broke out and finally swept Mubarak and his regime away: The wrath of people which simply have had enough of secret police and lack of freedom.

Article 2. "AWR staff are safe and hope to return to work a.s.a.p." shows how we grappled with the sudden change of situation.

3. "My first experience in the middle of Tahrir Square" by our friend Amin Makram Ebeid is about the meetings in Tahrir square. From the very beginning Muslims and Christians alike felt the dire need to turn to God to hold his shielding hand over the situation.

4. "Demonstrations of rage" is mainly about the youth protest movements, foremost among which is the "We are all Khalid Said" movement.

5. "A Christian face to the protests"
In this article Jayson Casper gives an in depth analysis of the backgrounds and context of the situation from his view. "‘Eid Wahida!’ – ‘One Hand!’ was the most popular chant uttered" he retells his own rememberances.

6. "The Egyptian revolt resulted in strong signals of Muslim-Christian unity". In this article Cornelis Hulsman confirms the experience that the events have brought Muslims and Christians into much closer contact than ever before. He cites that "Patriarch Cardinal Antonius Naguib, the head of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, told our delegation on February 2 that this was the greatest unity of Muslims and Christians since Egyptian leader Saad Zaghloul united Muslims and Christians in resisting the British occupation of the country in 1919."

7. "Lawlessness in Egypt makes it possible for blood feuds to revive, killing nine members of Christian family (by Cornelis Hulsman)". Of course the absence of police immediately triggers the opening of old blood feuds as in the case of the massacre of a Christian family in the province of Minya on January 30. Sad, as it is it is also an example of misreporting because the event was used to support the cause of certain organizations who just reported about the killing, but not about why they had happened and thus make it look like "persecution" which it certainly was not. Read the details under article number 7.

Articles 14 through 17 are on the "Experiences of a Dutch/Egyptian delegation in Egypt prior to the resignation of President Mubarak"
Much more than a travel report it shows the increasing tension, but also the difference between the perception of the situation in the city and out in the country.

Finally Article 19. "On their positions on the demonstrations. Church and Mosque: a close up view" by Hānī Labīb gives a detailed overview of the public statements of various men of religion on the situation.

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