Friday, February 11, 2011

Watching Egypt from a distance

Watching the goings on in Egypt I feel like I often do, really far away, not just geographically but culturally, linguistically and politically. It's hard to know what to do in a situation like this. On one hand, my heart goes out to the Egyptian people, and on the other, I really don't know what the situation is like and what the stakes are like a native Egyptian would. I'm just an outsider streaming news videos on the internet.

But as I've thought about this, I've come to this conclusion. My opinion on Egyptian politics may not be educated enough to matter, but I can still support much in this revolution, most specifically the peaceful tactics employed by the demonstrators. At the end of the day, the government the Egyptians want will doubtless not be ideal for American political and economic interests, but I support it insofar that it is what the people want and they used positive, pacifist means to get it.

Being the capitalist American consumer that I am, I'm taking the time to support the events in Egypt the way I understand best. I'm voting with my mouse. I'm clicking on youtube videos of Egyptians cleaning their own streets in a show of national pride and protesters dropping to their knees in prayer when they're hit with a water cannon (note, that video also shows someone hit by a van at 2:35 - no gore, but look away if you're still squeamish.) I'm watching every news story on Egypt, clicking the links again and again, and hoping that around the world others are doing the same.

The crude impact I hope to make? To show the world that peaceful, respectful protests make headlines and keep the world watching. I'll ignore stories of bombings and shootings in favor of watching Egypt, and I hope enough other people do the same that this becomes the most effective way for groups to have their voices heard. Once the dust settles on this revolution, Egypt and the US may not be allied as closely as we once were, but that will in no way dilute or diminish the immense respect I feel for the demonstrators and what they've accomplished over the last two weeks.

Today is the weekend for Egypt and the demonstrations should be the biggest yet, both because businesses are closed and because Mubarak told all of his close advisors he was stepping down yesterday, then reneged on the deal on television last night. While the people continue to flock to Tahrir Square with their demands, this video seems even more fitting now than when it was released a couple of weeks ago.

(All of these links were pulled off Sally El Hosaini's Facebook page. She and I were roommates at the United World College of the Atlantic, and she is very active in the demonstrations here in London.)

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