November 18, 2011 • In web :: Features
The Arab Spring
Writer Sima Sahar Zerehi spent much of her time tracking the Middle Eastern and North African revolutions on Twitter. She put together a primer on what happened over the past few months in these regions.
"Where were you when Mubarak resigned? #Jan25 #Egypt"
This was a tweet I sent out the day after the despotic and now disgraced Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was finally forced to resign due to massive public protests, which focused on legal, political and economic issues. Mubarak, who managed to stay in power for almost 30 years, resigned after weeks of determined protests and pressure. He faced allegations of corruption and abuse of power as well as charges of premeditated murder of protesters. The uprising in Egypt is still continuing today with much uncertainty and instability rocking the country.
The tweet speaks to the fact that even in the midst of the uproar and chaos of the events of the day--we were conscious that we were living in a historical moment worth encapsulating.
The night before, a world was glued to their computer, television and mobile phone screens--for me it was CNN, Al Jazeera and Twitter--I was desperate for fresh news and the opportunity to share this experience with others who recognized its implications. It was surreal to see what was being played on American, Canadian and British television stations--jubilant images of smiling, dancing, singing Arab youth in Egypt's Tahrir square.
This was unprecedented. For me, this was the first time that masses of Arab and Middle Eastern looking people were shown on Western TV channels as the good guys rather than the terrorists, fundamentalists, and threats to security. Jaded, seasoned television journalists reporting live from the square were gushing about the peaceful protestors, clearly moved by their discipline as well as their commitment to their cause for change.
For a generation of young people, particularly those of us who are Middle Eastern, North African, Muslim, or Arab, this moment in Tahrir Square spoke to a seismic shift in the political terrain.
This moment was the antidote we so needed for the nightmare of September 11.
This was the moment when the West finally differentiated between the people of North Africa and Middle East and the oppressive and despotic regimes of our homelands.
This was the proof we needed to show that you don't need to bomb our region for liberation--that change can happen internally through the mobilization of the grassroots and the empowerment of media savvy youth.