Mubarak Goes Down: The Power of (Mostly) Peaceful Protest

Mubarak has finally announced his resignation — the day Egyptian protesters had been rallying for 18 days now. The most amazing thing about the revolution that toppled one of America’s favorite dictators? That it was by and large extremely peaceful.

Yes, there was chaos. But there were also concerned citizens who organized to pick up trash and direct the traffic.

Yes, there was looting. But there were also volunteer groups who organized to protect museums and cultural institutions.

Yes, there have been clashes with police, and some fatalities on both sides. But there were millions of people in the streets, and by and large the protests were civil — a massive revolution in the largest Middle Eastern nation in the world that left only 200 dead is fairly miraculous.

This was a peaceful protest with an amazing result so far: the people demanded fairer representation, demanded democracy. They were persistent. And now they’ve made the first step towards getting it.

Here’s the New York Times with the breaking news:

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday. The announcement, delivered during evening prayers in Cairo, set off a frenzy of celebration, with protesters shouting “Egypt is free!”

The Egyptian military issued a communiqué pledging to carry out a variety of constitutional reforms in a statement notable for its commanding tone. The military’s statement alluded to the delegation of power to Mr. Suleiman and it suggested that the military would supervise implementation of the reforms.

The exciting part is over — now the hard task of building a democracy from the rubble of a dictatorship looms ahead. Good luck, Egypt.

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Image: Uncoverage

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant is a founding editor of the Utopianist.. When he's not helming the Utopianist, he is TreeHugger's politics writer, contributes the Getting Samy Out of Burma column to, and freelances for the likes of Salon and Paste. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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