The following opinion piece by Ahmed E. Souaiaia appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Souaiaia is a UI associate professor in International Programs, Religious Studies and the College of Law.
Three Thursdays ago, I made a bet with one of my students in front of all his classmates: Hosni Mubarak would be out of power in less than 30 days.
Today, I know that I will be eating my pizza soon.
On the third Friday since the beginning of the uprising, Umar Suleiman emerged on state television to say, “The Egyptian president, Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, has resigned and handed over the administration of country to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. May God help us all.”
Immediately thereafter, the millions of Egyptians who filled the streets for nearly three weeks hugged one another crying and declaring, “Mabruk! (Congratulations!)”
For 18 days, thousands of Egyptians slept on cold concrete, lost more than 300 of their brethren, nursed the wounds of nearly 5,000 friends, and shared dried loaves of bread and bottled water.
On the third Friday, they reclaimed ownership of their country and recommitted themselves to a pluralistic society.
Listening to the reaction of Egyptians to the announcement for which they waited for three weeks, one can sense the rebirth of Egyptian pride and Egyptian citizenship. One can sense that this revolution was not primarily about democracy, it was not about bread, it was not about jobs, and it was not about religion. It was about reclaiming dignity and defeating fear first and foremost.
Today, Egyptians will begin cleaning their streets and mending relationships. They will begin the long and arduous task of rebuilding a nation for every Egyptian. They will begin a new future not just for themselves, but the rest of the Arab world.
The rest of the world should give the Egyptians time to mourn and time to celebrate. They should be given the time to breathe the air of freedom without fear. They should be given the time to find themselves, again.
Egyptians will need to put their house in order and they deserve the consideration to do so without interference and without pressure. Egypt will be back as a member of the world community that respects others, but more than anything else, respects its citizens.