Friday, February 18, 2011

"I am Egyptian"

Piles of t-shirts spill out of suitcases on the ground. Young men with fistfuls of flags weave through the crowds, looking for buyers. Small groups gather to have the Egyptian flag painted on their cheeks free of charge. Young children are everywhere – in their mother’s arms, on their father’s shoulders, happily waving the Egyptian flag.

A week after the historic announcement that Hosni Mubarak was stepping down as president of Egypt, Egyptians are still celebrating.

Now, members of the military smile and pose for pictures where before they would sternly shake their heads. If families were common in Tahrir before Mubarak’s resignation, now they are everywhere. Even foreigners who have made Cairo their home have started to gather in Tahrir with their families and young children.

Increasingly the feeling in Tahrir Square is like that of a festival. Gone is the underlying tension, the worry that more government thugs will attack the peaceful atmosphere in Cairo’s Liberation Square.
On the other hand, some Egyptians stood in the square looking a bit bewildered. “We’re here… what do we do now?” one commented twenty-something girl to her friend.

Others have echoed the thought: Mubarak has left… why are they still gathering? Some come to honor the memories of the martyrs, whose pictures hang from various points along the square. Others come to visit with friends, for an afternoon out, or simply to bask in the strange freedom of gathering freely in public with thousands of others.

Egyptians are well aware that their struggle is not over. Much work remains to be done if Egypt is to become a democratic state. Even so, they seem intent on enjoying this first victory before moving on to the next battle.

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