A Day of a Million Days: Victory in the Land of the Ancients!
12 February, 2011
On that day, We shall fold the heaven, like the folding of a book. Just as We initiated the first creation, We shall repeat it. This is Our Promise; We shall certainly carry it out.
(Surah The Prophets, Koran 21: 104)
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!
Almost everyone expected it to come when the demonstrations started in Liberation Square in the ancient city of Cairo on 25th February. Today (12th February in Malaysia; 11th in Egypt) the millions of Egyptians demonstrating across all Egypt in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, against Hosni Mobarak’s authoritarian regime of 30 years erupted into joyous ecstasy, celebrating their victory. As the English poet put it, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. But to be young was very Heaven!”
After two false steps of refusing to accept reality and step down, on the 18th day of mass demonstrations, Mubarak relinquished his power and handed it over to the Egyptian Military, which, since modern times, has consistently acted as protector of the people. The Military Supreme Council, which has accepted all the demands of the now awakened and revolutionized Egyptian people, promised to prepare a quick and smooth transition of power back to the people.
Those were the most remarkable 18 days in the history of Egypt and of the world! Millions demonstrating spontaneously and peacefully; what a feat of human heroism and determination! The 300 or so who died, killed in clashes with 30-year old entrenched Pharaonic authority, did not do so in vain. They died as martyrs. The Military saluted them as such. President Obama said, “Egypt will never be the same again.”
As the Egyptians, and indeed the world, celebrated their glorious victory, it has to be remembered that it is only the first step, albeit a great big step, on the road to a better future for that country and for the world. Egypt is a great civilization, the oldest, extending to over 5,000 years of history. It is in the region where the three great monotheistic religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam began. Needless to say, this great revolution will have a lasting impact on the Middle East and on the world.
For one, Egypt is a strategic ally and partner of the United States and Israel, two leading powers in the region. How will the new-emergent Egypt affect this relationship? A new free Egypt will no longer be a surrogate of U.S. power in the Middle East and will not readily bow to Israeli interests. This is what worries Israel and the U.S. But all that is to the good. Both cannot continue to play a bullying role in a new emerging just world.
Will the new Egypt be secular or Muslim fundamentalist of the brand of Muslim Brotherhood? From what we can gauge from the views of the millions of the demonstrators, said to be mainly young, this is what I can conclude. They are Muslims all right, praying in the Liberation Square and shouting “God is great!” after their victory; but they do not seem to be extremists. Mind you, these days of the so-called “born-again Muslims,” these youths can be extremists! These demonstrators hungering for freedom must know that Islam does not stipulate a so-called “Islamic state” of the variety that our own Islamic Party (PAS) wants to set up. As I wrote many times elsewhere, Islam favours a secular state; the famous Medina Charter of Prophet Muhammad proves that.
The transition period has to be managed carefully. The Military Supreme Council is duty-bound to honor its commitments to the Egyptian people’s deep aspirations for genuine freedom. As the first and immediate step, those unjustly-detained political prisoners must be freed; then the various emergency laws be removed and full freedom of conscience and expression be granted. Next would be to uproot corruption and rewrite the Constitution to give full expression to the Egyptian people’s political, economic and social rights. These must include the rights to full employment and fair distribution of income to all members of Egyptian society.
Egypt can then play a leading role and be a power for the good, not only in the Middle East, but also in today’s world of “Great Disorder under Heaven.” This would also befit Egypt’s ancient character as the centre of a great culture and civilization.
Kassim Ahmad is a Malaysian free-lance writer. His websites are: www.kassimahmad.blogspot.com and www.stormloader.com/qsmjam