The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Thoughts on a free Egypt

By Nate Powell- Palm & Mariam Asaad

The streets of Cairo erupted in shouts, dances and embraces last Friday as news came that President Mubarak was stepping down after thirty years in power. Mubarak’s resignation came eighteen days after hundreds of thousands of protestors started gathering in Tahrir Square demanding his abdication.
While indescribably happy with the outcome of the protests, Mohammed Elamawy, the Arabic Language Assistant from Egypt, did not initially believe anything would come of the protests.

“I thought it would be something normal because from time to time we have demonstrations and the police would control them, but I never thought it would be such a big number,” he said.

Egypt’s future is still uncertain as there are plenty of concerns about the military fulfilling its promise to hold elections in six months. Mervat Youssef, Assistant Professor of French and Teacher of Arabic, is hopeful that change will come.

“We have to be sure (that the army will leave) because otherwise those people died for nothing. The only way out of this misery is that … we establish a civilian government,” she said.

The army, according Youssef, is the most efficiently productive sector of the Egyptian economy and is overwhelmingly supported by the people. For this reason, she feels, the army has little interest in imposing martial law.

“They’re really loved by the people and they’re not going to risk that. People have great respect for the military,” she said.
Elamawy shares Youssef’s outlook on the army’s role in a post-Mubarak Egypt.

“I think that the military leaders who are in charge now do not want a military president. They want a people president and the people want a people president,” he said.

Though prior commitments to Grinnell kept Elamawy from returning to Egypt, he voiced his solidarity for Egyptians in his generation, who were the driving force behind the revolution.

“The average age of the Egyptian population is 25, just like me. I would be in [Tahrir] Square, I feel how they feel,” Elamawy said. “I think it’s amazing. I’m so proud of it. So proud. People are making history. This is the first time people my age are making history.”

While both of these Grinnellian Egyptians expressed feelings of pride for their countrymen, they agree that now is the most important time to start working to rebuild a country which has experienced neglect and suffered from corruption at the hands of Mubarak.

During the protest, confrontations between authority figures and protesters involved the police, not the military. The total fatality count due to police brutality and clashes between police and protesters is reported to be upwards of 300 civilians.
This people’s relationship between the police and the people is one of many problems that a newly liberated Egypt faces, Youssef believes.

“We have to rebuild the relationship between the police and the people.” she said.

Youssef compares the last 18 days and the months and years to come to killing a poisonous snake, of which Mubarak is the head.

“When you cut the head off you think the snake is going to stop. Well, it’s going to wiggle for some time.”

But after all of the uncertainty and angst surrounding Egypt’s future, Youssef still believes that with the necessary work from Egyptian citizens, and political pressure on the country’s leaders, the protests and ousting of the president will lead to the blossoming of Egypt.

“The trick is, we know the head has been cut off and then we put up with the rest until we totally bury it. We make sure the burial is in a place where we can use it as fertilizer.”

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