A Spark Sets Egypt Ablaze (in Glory)

Posted on February 18, 2011 by admin

(Great Sphinx of Giza sits silent vigil, before the Pyramid of Khafre, Egypt. Photo

Recipe for Revolution

Take the memory of a 28-year-old Egyptian businessman, Khaled Said, from Alexandria, who was beaten to death by military police last June; toss in a Facebook page begun by Google employee, Wael Ghonim (saying “We are all Khaled Said“); add to it 30 years of despotic rule by Hosni Mubarek; combine that with a people sickened by autocratic abuse of power; and you have the makings of real revolution.

The spark? The young man who set himself ablaze on a rooftop in Alexandria, the one who was tired of empty promises of a better life in Egypt. He was one of three young Egyptian men who’d go the self-immolation route, seeing no way out, anymore. Adding fuel to that fire was the capture and imprisonment (by Mubarek’s forces) of Ghonim. That action propelled the revolution forward when it could have petered out (sound message to other strong-arm types).

Suddenly crowds emptied from houses in Cairo and they grew daily, to the disbelief of the world. For this was no usual revolt…begun in clandestine fashion, over years, finally erupting. This came about due to slow simmering, an undercurrent affecting all, by people who suffered a deep fatigue that propelled them to confront the despot, demanding his exit.

I’ve never been to Egypt but I am inordinately impressed with its people. When Mubarek delivered his speech, last Thursday (when we all expected him to announce his stepping down), the world held its collective breath, expecting a terrible bloodbath to ensue. Instead, Egypt’s people bore their great disappointment in noble fashion, collected themselves, and pressed on….no burning buildings, no murders…no destruction.

If the American Revolution began with the “shot heard ‘round the world“ when our fledgling nation went up against the imperial strength of our mother country, then Egypt‘s Revolution is even more impressive: her people stoically resisted an autocratic rule that persisted for thousands of years–and they did it without substantial bloodshed.

Oh, there were deaths and burning of police headquarters in the beginning of the protests (police had figured in terrorist tactics under the auspices of Mubarek-rule for years), but ensuing days were characterized by civility and control, in the face of the dictator’s stubborn resistance. The people simply would not back down, prompting the president’s final action–flight under cover of darkness.

In recent years, Americans have been conflicted over people in the Middle East. Since 9/11, the Muslim world has loomed an oppressive, frightening place where savagery seems to occur in regular fashion: fanatical forces reign; women are stoned; men are beheaded; dictators rule oppressively.

We doubtless saw a skewed image of these people.

This one episode that transpired in Egypt over this 18 day period has done more to restore the belief that we people of the world are motivated by common desires to live freely, care for our families, contribute to the world (the young who began the revolution were frustrated at poor prospects of a future).

If our religious belief is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu, it makes no difference. We are bound in our humanity and common desires. That was most evident as the world witnessed Egypt‘s sustained struggle over this recent period.

There will, sadly, always be dictators of the stripe of Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung, Kim Jong-II, Saddam Hussein, Castro, Mubarek.

The lesson of Egypt is that we are more alike than we are different, and that is a strong message we citizens of the world needed to hear. Our Muslim brothers and sisters are to be praised for their self-containment and sheer courage in the face of awful danger. Their honor and regal bearing have impressed us all. They are a source of inspiration and encouragement to others who struggle under the yoke of dictatorships.

***On an aside, Biddy would like to recognize, too, the swift responsiveness of the Swiss nation in freezing Mubarek’s fortune (ill-gained on the backs of his people), ostensibly to be returned to Egypt’s people. The days of another nation’s neutrality (Switzerland’s historical stance) in the face of grave evil are “over.” “Well-done, Switzerland!”

(Below is a link from, demonstrating how Wael Ghonim became an “accidental hero.”)

***Tell us what you think of the recent situation, as well as its impact on the rest of the region. As always, click on Comment or Leave a Comment…your e-mail address will never be given out. Promise.

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