Mabruk ya Masr! !مبروك يا مصر

Congratulations, Egypt!!!

I’m overcome with emotion right now, and it feels a little odd and unearned — the Egyptians are not my people, and their uprising unfolded without a grain of help from me. And yet the joy, the sense of possibility, the renewed faith in humanity and our gifts — it’s just overwhelming!

Tears roll down my face as I type, just as they did when I heard the news on Al Jazeera (how funny that I’m grateful that I was in front of the computer when the news came that Mubarak had resigned. I’ve known about this new reality precisely as long as the Egyptian people, and for some reason, that feels wonderful).

I have many concerns and fears. I’ve discussed some of them here, and others — such as an amorphous dread that this doesn’t bode well for Israel/Palestine (which may amount to little more than a vicious awareness that if Israel can screw things up, it almost always does) — are floating around, in my head and the blogosphere and halls of academia and centers of power, right now. Mubarak had hardly gone, the crowds still wildly cheering in Egypt’s streets, before People Who Know Things were online and on the air, talking about how uncertain the days ahead are, and how we mustn’t be too thrilled with this thrilling turn of events.

And all I can say, on this day, the day on which the people of Egypt threw off their chains is: Stop talking. Please – just stop talking.

Instead, listen. Listen to the people in Tahrir Square*, listen to the joy in the voice of Egyptian journalist Mona Elthahawy**, listen to the tears of activist and political scientist Rabab al-Mahdi***. Listen and watch and allow the sheer, unmitigated euphoria of the Egyptian people wash over you and through you. Allow them their moment – honor their moment – and be humble and gracious enough to realize: We might not have any idea what their lives are like.

We might not know what it means to live under a brutal, dehumanizing regime for our entire lives, never free to tell the truth, never allowed to play a role in bettering our lives or our nation, held in a position of penury and often hunger by the rapacious appetites of men who have always found us to be beneath contempt.

We might not know what it’s like to lose loved ones — children, wives, husbands — to the grinding, bloody gears of an inhuman security apparatus. We might not know what it’s like to be tortured to within an inch of sanity ourselves. We might not know what it’s like to be arrested for having long hair, or talking to the wrong foreigner, or taking action to better our community.

We might not know. But the Egyptians do.

They know what they’ve left behind far better than we can ever imagine, and, likewise, they know far better than we the challenges they face. They are neither blind, nor stupid. Their joy is a thing of immense, almost palpable beauty, a thing which comes from the very core of the human heart, and it deserves its space and its place.

There’s nothing easier on God’s green earth than being dismissive, cynical, or unimpressed. It requires no effort, no investment of the self, and often, very little thought. On the other hand, there’s nothing more punk than faith. On this day, I’m choosing faith over fears, and elation over cynicism.

I know the Egyptians have a long road ahead — frankly, all of us have a long road ahead. Their road may yet get ugly, it may get much more bloody, and it may very well be fraught with disappointments and petty failures. Such is our human lot. If we were angels, we wouldn’t need revolution in the first place.

But today is not a day to tell Egypt and the rest of humanity to reign in our joy, to temper our hopes. Today is a day to allow our hearts to fill to overflowing, and to bask in the beauty that we humans can sometimes achieve.

Today is a day for joy.


(Just listen to what Joe Strummer says at the start of his version of Redemption Song – it’s like he was still here with us. [I discovered that the official video of this song is embedding disabled, so I’ve substituted a non-official, audio-only version. [I’ve since discovered that Sony are a bunch of skinflint jerks who don’t want anyone, anywhere to listen to their music in anything but the pre-approved fashion! Or so it would seem. So, as I am reduced to this, I highly recommend that you watch the official video of Joe Strummer’s version of “Redemption Song” – to do so, click here. It’s achingly lovely, & expresses much of what I feel about the uprising]. I wished he’d lived to see this day).




Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.


  1. BJonthegrid

     /  February 11, 2011

    Awesome! I was just saying that the media is already doing the scary Muslim Outcomes speculation. It hasn’t even been 12 hours! You have done excellent work keeping us informed! Hats off to you!

  2. Nice post, Emily! And it’s always good to meet another fan of Strummer’s much-underrated solo work.

    • Oh, dude! I could listen to that album in particular (Of course, some days, the last song makes me cry, but then, I’m like that).

      • oh you’re not the only one who cries during that last song!

        • I actually thought of you when I wrote that! : )

          I watched the documentary (The Future is Unwritten) the other night, after writing this post. It wasn’t a perfect film, but it was great. And I’m even sadder now that he’s gone….

  3. dmf

     /  February 11, 2011

    are you telling us we should “stop collaborate and listen”? enjoy the release good ee

  4. congratulations and thank you

  5. taylor16

     /  February 13, 2011

    Stopping by three days late, of course, as usual, but this is beautiful. Thanks for reminding us that it’s easy to speculate, but hard to get it right if you don’t understand someone’s reality. The cheering crowds and tears of joy were all I needed to see to know how I felt … pure excitement and happiness for them.

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