Legacy International’s Staff Member Khaled Hassouna and his wife Dina Ali Report
For the first time, people with differing opinions came together, had a dialogue, took it to the streets and created change. This movement started with bright young professionals from all walks of life. It included people from Al Azhar with the Coptic churches, young and old, rich and poor, men and women. This is unprecedented. The last time we saw something like this was in 1919.
The Egyptian people were asking for really important things. They were not asking for things like a pay raise, or healthcare reform. They were asking for something that was really beyond that…(freedom, dignity, and social equity) and it took a while for the government to understand this.
In Tahrir Square, a company donated plastic that could be used to make make-shift tents. Cable/rope companies were also donating wire for supporting the tents against strong winds. Small towns were created within the Square. What makes this movement so unique is how the army basically facilitated this uprising…how they protected the demonstrators.
I personally did not take part in the demonstrations. I did not go to the Square, but I was helping with the creation of the civil defense groups that were mobilizing civilians to protect their homes and their personal property.
The level of organization was incredible. The civil defense efforts…the ways in which people were protecting their neighbors, their neighborhoods and their property was better than anyone in the world expected. There was not a single reported incident of harassment, burglary, or violence among 2 million people crammed in a square for 18 days.
Last night, there were 3 million people in Tahrir Square. This afternoon, there were 5 million people and today it’s in the tens of millions. There were girls in jeans and tee shirt side by side linking hands with women in niqab. It was amazing to see millions of people praying together during Friday prayers today while Christians were protecting their backs. It was inspiring to see the Egyptian copts performing their mass in the square protected by the Muslims of all affiliations. I don’t think you even had that many people praying together in one place even in Mecca. The army was protecting them.
It was worth dodging all the bullets for this kind of outcome. The long nights of uncertainty were worth it. The reform that the government was offering was simply too slow for the people. Their words and their terminology were totally of sync with the people.
I really admired a soldier in the army who did not pull the trigger on his machine gun when protestors were running towards him. The soldiers had no idea what the protesters were going to do, only to find the protesters hugging and kissing him. This situation has broken many of the stereotypes you hear about the relationship between armies and civilians.
Yesterday the confusion was terrible. Today, people are celebrating, but we are not sure what this means. What is clear is the critical role that Egypt plays in the Middle East. Egypt is the core, the heartbeat of the Middle East. Today, for the fist time in Saudi Arabia, the royal family gave permission for a political party to operate. Governments in the region continue to fall in Yemen, in Jordan, etc. Constitutional reform in many Middle Eastern countries is now underway and this could not have happened without the efforts of the Egyptian people. This shows you what civil society in Egypt is capable of. Unfortunately, thousands of people were wounded and over 300 lost their lives. Many of the analysts in the world had written these brave young people off, but today they proved the world wrong.
I am proud to be an Egyptian citizen of the world. This peaceful revolution took place in my country changing the world for all. I am proud to live this moment with all its emotions and feelings. Today (thank God) I am proud.
Legacy International staff members are inevitably on the forefront of creating positive change!