Egyptian people took to the streets in celebration rather than protest Friday morning when the historic announcement of 30-year President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation hit the airwaves.
Austin supporters of the movement hit the streets as well Friday evening in an event spearheaded by the International Socialist Organization and members of the Austin Arab community.
People gathered in front of the Capitol to demonstrate their solidarity with the Egyptian movement for democracy through chants, speeches and song. But with the morning’s triumph, celebration was also in order.
“I’m more excited today than I have ever been in my entire life,” said English and pre-med senior Sara Rady. “The Egyptian people accomplished something that no other country ever has. They showed that a nation of people could unite to bring about freedom and democracy."
The Egyptian revolution is unique in several ways — the most prominent being its lack of a single uniting ideology or leader for the millions of people who broke out in strike or protest for days at a time, said Roy Casagranda, an associate government professor at Austin Community College.
Currently, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is the highest-ranking figure in Egypt and will remain so for the next six months, according to Al Jazeera English. The military promised a smooth transition to a democratic system following the hiatus.
Although the military dissolved the Parliament on Sunday, they failed to retract the emergency law that is governing Egypt. The law grants the government the ability to extend police powers, suspend constitutional rights and practice censorship. Its abolishment remains one of the core demands of Egyptian protesters. The future therefore remains uncertain, Casagranda said.
“This is going to sound strange because I’m Egyptian, but this is not the happiest day of my life,” he said. “The happiest day of my life will be when Egypt puts in place a successful and stable democracy.”
A stable democracy means a president is elected into office by the votes of the Egyptian citizens alone, said event organizer Karen Burke.
“[Mubarak’s resignation] is amazing and a huge victory for the people of Egypt,” she said. “However, it answers only one of their demands. They wanted Mubarak to leave but they also want all of his cronies gone.”
This “good job, but the work’s not over yet” sentiment was echoed up and down the blocks of Congress as the mass of about 200 marched to the lively beat of both drums and a steady chanting of “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The people made Mubarak go! Hey, Hey! Ho, ho! One down, lots more to go!”
But as the group returned to their meeting place in front of the Capitol gates, the exhilaration from the day’s victory could no longer be stifled by concern for what lay ahead. Instead, spontaneous bursts of Egyptian national song, bolstered by instruments and honks of camaraderie from passing cars, rang throughout the rally.