Saturday, February 12, 2011

Walk Like An Egyptian!

I stood for a moment at the intersection of Marietta Street and Broad Street, completely perplexed, unable to determine which direction would bring me to my destination. The city traffic continued to bustle and hum in a frenzy, hoping to avoid the nuisance of waiting at the next red light. Within the seconds of stillness before the next green light, I noticed a faint sound of chanting to the rhythm of drums. My uneasiness quickly subsided as I turned to my left and began walking up Marietta Street towards The CNN Center.

I stood across from a crowd of people occupying the street corner diagonal to the CNN Center. Although the crowd appeared smaller in comparison to that of last week’s protest, the energy was equally as enthusiastic and the message just as clear. The group held much variety, proving their support and love did not exclude anyone, nor benefit anyone specifically. I stood in awe of the dedication these people possessed. Although halfway across the world, we stood together in solidarity with those fighting for freedom in Egypt.

On January 25, 2011, millions Egyptians flooded the streets of cities such as Cairo, Aswan, Alexandria and Ismailia, with intentions of peacefully protesting the persistent rule of a regime which has suppressed economic and political opportunity within the country for decades. The massive demand for the deposal of the Mubarak Presidency and its corrupt, unjust law enforcement caused fatal acts of violence crossing socio-economic boundaries and involving various religious faiths. The brutality continued for eighteen days, until Friday afternoon, when President Mubarak announced his resignation from office. Protesters in Egypt and all around the world spent today celebrating the end of the thirty year dictatorship.

“It has been an exciting development,” said Dianne Mathiowetz of The International Action Center, “to witness an absolute river of people—young to old—who felt the need to fight for their liberation within every muscle—every tendon of their body—and were willing to put their life on the line... it is incredibly inspiring to everyone.” Mathiowetz is one of many people who have attended the weekly protests responsible for drawing crowds of at least 250 people and heavy media coverage in Atlanta.

High school student Asma Hajjaj has also been participating in the protests every week with her friends. “It’s the least we can do all the way here in America.” Hajjaj stated that she has family over in Egypt, and that one of her cousins is actively involved with the protests. “My cousins in Egypt texted me right away when Mubarak stepped down; I was in school and I started screaming in the middle of class!” Hajjaj and several friends spent the afternoon chanting “Mubarak, Mubarak, now you’re gone, now we can party all night long!” and “Freedom!” on the street corner diagonal to The CNN Center. Others were clapping, singing, and beating on drums. Everyone there was smiling and celebrating the success in Egypt, and honoring those who gave their lives along the way.

“This is definitely the beginning of something…” said Hajjaj while smiling with her friend. “When we heard Mubarak resigned, we wanted today to be more of a celebration than a protest. We don’t exactly know what will happen next, but it is truly amazing to see the people of Egypt go out there and fight for what they want.”

Katherine Paist
Guest Writer