Friday, February 11, 2011

At The Egyptian Embassy, London, When The News Breaks ...

An emotional day, and an emotional moment, with a very vocal crowd of demonstrators, chanting, shouting, singing and protesting in a peaceful way, held back from the small black Embassy doors by a mere five cheerful British bobbies, when a call comes for silence, and at 16:03 GMT, the announcement is made official - 'Mubarak is gone'. No more martyrs required.

Disbelief, then tears and joy for some of those in the crowd who perhaps, are not used to protesting, and perhaps a few who wondered whether their voices would ever be heard. And then, more shouting and cheering, rejoicing. 11th of February is Egypt's new Independance Day.

After 30 years of pain and 18 days of civil protest the scenes on TV from Cairo were no doubt mirrored among Egyptian exiles in capitals around the world, and London was no exception.

Among the London demonstrators, and one of the driving forces behind the Facebook campaign for the London demonstration, was an Egyptian friend of mine, Khaled, so I went up to the Embassy today to lend him my small support, and report on the protest. I was privileged to be there when the news came through.

Khaled is a single individual, one man, but in small groups with other like-minded Egyptians they have fought in this cause despite being away from their homeland. Add all those small groups together and you get 20 million in Egypt and God knows how many others around the world all shouting with one voice.

In the UK we are a little reticent about demonstrating. We may show sympathy for a cause by swearing at the TV once in a while but getting out there is another thing entirely. I've demonstrated with the Unite Against Fascism against the nazi English Defence League, with Love Music Hate Racism against the equally racist British National Party, and with quite a few other organisations all with an important cause.

But I have rarely seen such passion in a crowd as I saw today, but still peaceful in the spirit of Ghandi - and it was an honour to be there at the death.

In the end, no further deaths were needed past the few hundred who have lost their lives, but I know that there were plenty of souls in Cairo who would have paid the price if required. This is your time, Egypt, and we hope that you will create a new political system in your land that will be fair and just.

Proud Egyptions will celebrate tonight - and we will celebrate with them.