January 25, 2012 marks the first anniversary of the uprisings that toppled former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak. All of a sudden, Egypt was on the global media stage and the whole world was captivated by the courageous people of this country. With admiration for their brave actions and fear for their future, we witnessed millions marching the streets of Egypt and protesting through Tahrir Square, demanding basic human rights, freedoms and social justice. After 18 tense days of massive protests, Mubarak stepped down and Egypt felt its first wind of freedom. Euphoria, enthusiasm, hope, excitement and sheer happiness was observed and felt globally as Egypt had just achieved the unthinkable. The barriers of fear that were created by tyranny were broken and dreams of change became possible.
What was next, no one knew, but for the time being, all that mattered was that tyranny was defeated by the will of the people. “Bravo Egypt,” a resounding sentiment that left us all in awe of the heroic people who took a stance for their rights.
Suddenly, these valiant young men and women became the true heroes of our world.
One year on and the country continues to face its share of challenges and conflicts. Questions remain over the unknown future of Egypt and doubts grow over the newly elected parliament and the role of military in society. What seems to be overlooked however is the colossal democratic triumph of human liberation and dignity. Such accolades are a testament to the courage, resilience, and will of the young and old, men and women of Egypt who showed the true power of mass activism.
The collective action that became the Egyptian revolution is an example to us all illustrating that injustice, inequality and lack of rights and freedoms have an expiration date. The expiry of authoritarian regimes has been clearly demonstrated through uprisings not only in Egypt but throughout the Middle East. Regardless of the expectations and results of the revolutions, it is important to consider these protests as a great step in the right direction. Perhaps even the most notable step in the recent history of not just Egypt but the rest of the region. Until this revolution is completed, Egyptians will never give up.
What comes next is slow and gradual. The long journey to democratic achievement will need a great deal of building blocks with the involvement of all men and women. Despite mass pessimism and criticism on what comes next for Egypt, let’s not forget that they have made it this far. Let’s not ignore the blood price people have paid to win freedom. Let’s not ignore what ignited the spark and fire that burst into Tahrir Square. And let’s never forget that thousands of lives have been sacrificed in the achievement of the celebration of today’s first anniversary.