In just eighteen days, young Egyptians waged a peaceful revolution and brought down the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and his failed police state. Inspired by Tunisians, empowered by social media and emboldened by a fierce yearning for freedom, they tore down the wall of fear and made
“I look at our society with a critical eye and find nothing extraordinary in the people I see,” wrote Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) during a bleak moment in his life. How the Egyptian Nobel Laureate (Literature, 1988) would have exulted if he could see his people making history in
The path to full democracy is long and arduous and there are many uncertainties along the way. The power, after all, has shifted to the Egyptian military. But the armed forces played a positive role in the people’s revolution and there is hope that there will soon be a lifting of the state of emergency, the dissolution of the illegitimate People's Assembly and Shura Council, the formation of an independent legal committee to amend the constitution, and the lifting of laws restricting political freedoms so that Egyptians can vote in a free and fair election.
But these uncertainties must not keep us from celebrating the extraordinary achievement of the Egyptians. They have lived in economic and political darkness for decades but in a matter of days, the light from their revolutionary flame raced across the globe and illumined us all. It is not only other Arab and Muslim countries suffering from corrupt governance and plutocracy that can take a cue from
I gained valuable insight into
When Mubarak sent his thugs to terrorize the protesters and their families, including the
Webb saw the young knights of
Among Egyptians, Webb found a middle ground between secularism and fanaticism. They were determined to sacrifice themselves before they would even consider sacrificing or hurting others. They were committed to eradicating corruption, poverty and inequality from their society rather than to any grand ideology. The compassion he witnessed between Muslims and Christians moved him. A leading Coptic priest in
Webb feels that Muslims, particularly American Muslims, should be grateful to Egyptians for the good name they brought to Islam through their non-violent revolution. In March, Republican Congressman Peter King of
But what Suhaib Webb came to realize most strongly during the revolution was that we all have inner Hosni Mubaraks, tyrants within us who oppress our spouses, our children, parents, relatives and subordinates. These inner pharaohs destroy the soul as surely as pharaonic rulers destroy lives. We must defeat our inner demons if we want to change ourselves, because change without can come only from change within.
Although it will take years to put the Egyptian revolution in perspective, several lessons are already clear. Here are a few:
1. If history teaches us only one thing, it is that no one is indispensable. Tragedy occurs because those who deem themselves indispensable become immune to the lessons of history.
2. A revolution must be organic to succeed. Freedom and democracy cannot be exported or imposed by military might. Eight years after the
4. The days of dictators who suppress the will of the people – Neroes playing flutes while capitals like
5. The Web is woven into the fabric of modern life and the power of the social media to mobilize people transcends borders and nationalities. Although many young people are web-savvy, there are many more who cannot exploit the power of social media. They can post tweets and share anecdotes with their Facebook friends, but launching a campaign or organizing a demonstration eludes them. All it takes is some practice and a keen sense of trends, keywords and justice. There are hundreds of worthy local causes. Pick one - a fundraiser, a school event, a town-hall meeting - and try to do it over the Internet. You never know when history will beckon.