What?s to come after Mubarak era?

Keith Brumley

Keith BrumleyColumnist

In a matter of 18 days, a non-violent populist revolution led by no one in particular toppled the authoritarian regime of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.

Beginning Jan. 25 with a Twitter feed protesting the death of Khale Said spreading through the air like the pollen of a germinated seed, people began to gather in Cairo’s Liberation Square. Hundreds became thousands. Thousands became hundreds of thousands. The military was called in 8212; but the military did not fire on the protesters. Thugs were organized to beat the protesters into submission. Thousands more became involved and the thugs retreated.

Egyptian citizens organized watchdog groups to protect their homes, businesses and families 8212; thus discouraging the looting, vandalism and violence that often accompany these things. Human Rights Watch estimated 300 hundred people were killed by Mubarak-organized thugs. Hundreds more were whisked off the streets, disappearing into the Egyptian police gulag. Torture was reported.

The protesters stood their ground and thousands more filled the Square. The military did not fire.

On Feb. 10, rumors spread that Mubarak was going to step down, and Liberation Square erupted into exultation. Joy morphed into outrage when Mubarak did not step down, but instead appointed Vice President Omar Sulieman as de facto Head of State. The protests grew 8212; both in size and intensity.

On Feb. 11, the tension and outrage exploded into joy when it was announced that Mubarak was transferring all powers to the Egyptian military’s High Council. Then began the largest party the world has experienced.

The Egyptian revolution has been coined by political activist and Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim as the first Internet revolution. This is partly because Internet technology played a key role in organizing the protests. Just as important were the Internet and satellite communications beaming images of the protests and countermeasures across the globe in real time.

Never has anyone witnessed something even near this. The social and political ramifications are beyond everyone’s ken. No one can predict how this will eventually pan out 8212; just as no one was able to predict that such an event would even happen. In the meantime, the Egyptian military has announced its role as one of only transition, promising free democratic elections leaving a civilian government in place.

These are wild and woolly days with as much anxiety as hope. The Chinese character for crisis, I’m told, is the same character for opportunity 8212; and what remains is who will seize the coming days? A new government for Egypt is certain, but what type of government remains to be seen? Will sectarianism arise? Will fundamentalism prevail? Or will Egypt’s young and educated continue to influence and guide Egypt’s ship of state toward reason, thus setting an example for everyone?

Not least in the mix is the question of order. Early on in the protest, the Obama administration called for an immediate and orderly transition. This seems to me a contradiction in terms. Nothing immediate has ever been orderly and the live news feeds streaming from Egypt confirmed this. But chaos, at least for the time being, has been averted . . . with the future remaining uncharted.

I was once told only two statements are made without qualification:

1) Everything is what it is and not something else instead. 2) There’s the bit where you say it, and then there’s the bit where you take it back.

At this writing, the bit in Egypt is one of hope, joy and promise. I hope that bit will never be taken back.

Still, the situation reminds me of the rancher who was asked in September what kind of winter we’d be facing.

“I’ll let you know next spring,” he said.

Keith Brumley is an SDSU alumnus and a journalism graduate student. Reach him at [email protected]

#1.1999897:1722308729.png:egyptprotest-GALLAGHER.png:Egyptian SDSU students and faculty members held a demonstration concerning the current situation in Egypt Feb. 3 in front on the corner of Sixth Street and Medary Avenue.:Collegian Photo by Robby Gallagher