Saturday, February 12, 2011

Picking Up After

A lot of pixels and electrons have been spent in the last couple of days on the revolution in Egypt. A lot of people are debating what the future will bring; will the new administration be an ally to the West and to Israel; will it bring stability to the region, or will we face another Iran like we did in 1979; what are the political implications here in the U.S. (as if that was the most important aspect of it); and so on. But I think there are signs of hope that this will be a positive change in the region and in Cairo, and one thing gives me that hope: after eighteen days of demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square, after the resignation of President Mubarak and the unbridled jubilation that was tweeted and Facebooked and texted around the world, now that it’s over, they’re cleaning up after themselves.

Thousands lent a hand to a volunteer cleanup of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the new Egypt. Sanitation trucks deployed on its outskirts and soldiers removed some of the barricades surrounding the square. The protest organizers had said they would leave it up to the people whether to stay or go. A small group on Saturday seemed intent on staying, for now, saying they wanted Hosni Mubarak, the president driven from office, to be tried.

“The People Overthrew the Regime,” read the headline in Al Ahram, the flagship state-owned national newspaper and former government mouthpiece, borrowing a line from the protest movement. Another article noted that Switzerland had frozen the assets of Mr. Mubarak and those of his aides.

They’re leaving it better than they found it.