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Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

There are very few times in your life when you know you are watching events that will change the world but today was one of those days. For those of us lucky enough to take our liberties for granted, you couldn’t help but have tears in yours eyes listening to people who tasted freedom for the first time. And not only did they feel free, but they knew they had achieved it through their own strength, patience and dignity.

As always President Obama made a pitch-perfect speech after a historic event:

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the eye to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt it was the moral force of nonviolence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more. And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history, echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path justice. As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, there’s something in the soul that cries out for freedom.

Egyptian Mohamed ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 as the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency had an opinion piece in The New York Times this morning ahead of today’s unforgettable events:

The rebirth of Egypt represents the hope of a new era in which Arab society, Muslim culture and the Middle East are no longer viewed through the lens of war and radicalism, but as contributors to the forward march of humanity, modernized by advanced science and technology, enriched by our diversity of art and culture and united by shared universal values. We have nothing to fear but the shadow of a repressive past.

Egypt’s Euphoria (The Economist) :

The surge of overwhelming bliss that has overtaken Egyptians is the rare beautitude of democratic will. The hot blush of liberation, a dazzled sense of infinite possibility swelling millions of happy breasts is a precious thing of terrible, unfathomable beauty, and it won’t come to these people again.

The Tweet is Mightier than the Sword (commentarymagazine.com) ;

In pictures (BBC) ;

A Letter from Cairo (Chicago Sun-Times) ;

This is Who Egyptians Are (The New York Review of Books) and they are pretty amazing.

Have a good weekend in a new world.

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Some of my favourite articles on Egypt as the protests have continued and history has continued to unfold. I can remember watching the Berlin Wall being torn down in 1989 and never imagined that I would witness anything like that again in my lifetime :

The Revolutionary Moment (The Nation) ;

If the world has a heart, it beats now for Egypt. Not, of course, the Egypt of President Hosni Mubarak—with the rigged elections, the censored press, the axed Internet, the black-clad security police and the tanks and the torture chambers—but the Egypt of the intrepid ordinary citizens who, almost entirely unarmed, with little more than their physical presence in the streets and their prayers, in the name of justice and freedom, are defying this whole apparatus of intimidation and violence.

Egypt and the Velvet Revolutions (The New Yorker) ;

– The New Yorker has also unlocked this 1990 piece from its archives interviewing Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz two years after Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature ;

– “Mubarak, Mubarak, What Have you Done ?” (The New York Review of Books) ;

I could hear piercing shrieks coming from further in the square. Pieces of metal and other debris seemed to be falling from the sky. Something seemed to be exploding, and I guessed it was shells of tear gas—it was a familiar sound.
And two of my favourite photo galleries from Egypt from The Guardian :

protest signs ;

protesters’ makeshift helmets ;

Other stunning graphics from the week :

– Australia’s Cyclone Yasi transposed over a map of the US (Wall Street Pit) ;

– astrophotographer Chris Kotsiopoulos captures an entire day in a single image (The Atlantic) ;

If you need more visual inspiration Google has a new website offering virtual tours of art galleries around the world.

Have a good weekend.

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By complete coincidence I got to number 20 of A History of the World in 100 Objects – the British Museum’s statue of Ramesses II – as protests erupted in Egypt (incredible eyewitness photo).

The giant statue inspired poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to create Ozymandias in 1818 – but it seems startlingly relevant to current events.

He knew what had happened to Egypt after Ramesses – with the crown passing to Libyans and Nubians, Persians and Macedonians, and Ramesses’ statue itself squabbled over by European intruders.  Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’ is a meditation not on imperial grandeur, but on the transience of earthly power, and in it Ramesses’ statue becomes a symbol of the futility of all human achievement.

Ozymandias

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

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I spent the day trying to work while keeping one eye on Al Jazeera English’s excellent live stream of events in Egypt.

– Robert Fisk writes about Egypt’s day of reckoning and a new truth dawning on the Arab World :

It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more.

– Yasmine El Rashidi has an eye witness account from Cairo, “Hosni Mabarak, the plan is waiting” (The New York Review of Books);

– and William Pfaff writes in the same publication on Uprisings: From Tunis to Cairo;

– The Atlantic has the story behind an iconic photo from the protests taken by one of the participants and posted online:

No need to hope mainstream media shows up. No need to wait for tomorrow’s papers. Everything can move quickly and though the Egyptian government has now blocked Facebook and Twitter, photos and videos are getting out. If there’s one thing that we should have learned from the file-sharing wars, it’s that the files will get out.

Today was also the 25th anniversary of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in which the seven crew members lost their lives just 73 seconds after take off.  A quarter of a century later, I can still vividly remember coming home from school and sitting down in front of the TV to watch the launch while still in my uniform – and then the shock of seeing the images unfolding before my eyes.

I can also remember Dr. Richard Feynman during the subsequent hearings to find out why the Challenger failed. He dropped an O-ring into a cup of iced water to show that they became brittle and broke in cold weather which inspired my interest in science.

– another inspirational figure: Japanese woman who starts writing poetry at 92 and becomes a best seller (The Guardian)

Have a good weekend.

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