On February 11th, the community of Nelson held a rally to support the Egyptian people in their struggle for democracy and freedom from tyranny. The protestors were determined to make their voices loud enough so that Canadian leaders would hear and pressure Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down as President.
Before the news of Mubarak “stepping down”, the protest was already of celebratory nature because, for the past 19 days, the Egyptian people were displaying to the rest of the world their courage, sacrifice and determination by relentlessly protesting in the streets of Egypt. Thus, when news broke the morning before the protest that, after 30 years as President, Mubarak was forced out by the power of the Egyptian people, the Nelson protest was in even higher spirits.
“When I heard the news on Al Jazeera this morning, I cried my eyes out,” said protest organizer Traci Goertzen. “I called my friends in Egypt [where she spent many years living and teaching] and the elation in their voices was amazing – it could not be duplicated.”
Twenty-four year-old protest participant Kendra was also moved by the news of Mubarak’s ouster from power: “I am excited to see people out here in Nelson right now. People care. People are honking horns in encouragement. There is lots of support from people walking by. It’s incredible what the Egyptian people have done. It took a lot to get him out…he was forced out. All the credit to the Egyptian people. I am proud to stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt.”
Rowan, 14, who has also lived in Egypt, and has friends and family there, was also pleased with the morning’s news. She had a suggestion for Mubarak as he leaves the Egyptian government as well: “I am happy that Mubarak stepped down. I would like to see his billions of dollars put towards the Egyptian people. No one needs that much money. It should be shared.”
“The Egyptian people are going to start creating a new Egypt for themselves.” Traci prophesized into a megaphone. “Hundreds of people were killed. Thousands were detained and disappeared. Egypt needs a new constitution. I am very hopeful that Egypt will be in the hands of the people to create a new democratic country that they want. I am hopeful they will keep the U.S. out. The people spoke and they were listened to. We are the people and we have the power. Thank you to the Egyptian people for inspiring the rest of the world.”
It remains to be seen what will happen in Egypt now that Mubarak has formally been removed as President. One thing is certain, from the streets of Cairo, Egypt to Nelson, British Columbia, Canada: Mubarak’s overthrow from power is a step in the right direction for democracy and a cause for celebration.