Power to the people

After the departure of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, the hunger for revolution swept east along the Mediterranean coast of North Africa to settle in Egypt, where the call for an end to injustice is long overdue.

Under the oppressive regimes of tyrants, even speaking of such things as protests is unheard of. This is precisely what makes the uproar in Egypt and Tunisia so commendable. The people are making themselves heard, and for the first time in decades, taking things into their own hands, demanding only freedom and democracy. The voices of the peaceful protesters in Egypt should not be silenced but instead encouraged.

After Egyptians marched before Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak within the cities of Egypt, the country’s unrest has gained a lot of traction, sparking debates and solidarity all around the world — real and virtual. A vlog recorded and posted on Facebook on Jan. 18 is believed to have helped spark the peaceful protests. Dubbed “the girl who started it all” by the virtual community, Asmaa Mahfouz advertised a protest through a video that went viral. The video was so powerful that it encouraged thousands of Egyptians to join her in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25. Sharing popular sentiments, she advertised the protest to eradicate the “humiliation, hunger, poverty and degradation” as she encouraged others to help instill, as she expressed, “freedom, justice, honour and human dignity.”

To freeze the momentum, Mubarak cut off Internet and mobile access in the hope of deterring protesters and diffusing their efforts. Since then though, the protests have only grown in number, and there has been a ringing support all across the world for the Egyptians peacefully demanding their rights to freedom of speech and the end of a representative government. International headlines are dotted with the country’s name, and social networking sites have turned into a debater’s haven with this newfound compassion for a people demanding to be heard.

Shamefully, these peaceful cries fall on deaf ears while Mubarak loyalists continue to babble his promise not to renew his term. What is his word to the Egyptian people? To the world? Certainly, restricting their access to communication only further confirms his oppressive approach. To no surprise, but much regret, world leaders watch and do nothing as waves of courageous Egyptians rush the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and the Suez Canal. The world can no longer sit and watch while Mubarak and his gang of thugs are confounding the peaceful efforts of the protesters.

Growing concerns over oil prices, economic and political ties persist, but fundamentally, it’s an issue of human rights. After the success in Tunisia, the strong protests in Egypt, and protests in Sudan, Syria, Jordan and Yemen, many are hoping the domino effect will continue to spread across the region and that this revolutionary spirit will endure to dissolve dictatorships, reshaping the face of the Middle East as we know it.

To witness revolution and reform after decades of tyranny, we can only hope for the safety of those courageous enough to speak out and yet another success story to be stamped into humanity’s history for future, free generations to admire.

Esma Mneina is a second-year student humbled by the current concern for human rights.