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February 16, 2011

Egypt's Revolution - a YouTube diary

Dr. Mohamed Bakr

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I, like many Egyptian Canadians and Egyptians worldwide, had an unbelievable experience following the evolving events of the Egyptian revolution.

I was mesmerized in front of Aljazeera TV screen watching their amazing live coverage of the people’s struggle for freedom.  I would leave my home only to work or to demonstrate with other Egyptians in Toronto against the dictator. 

I had very little sleep over these 18 days. 

We had to deal the stress of watching the tyrant who drove us out from our homeland kill free Egyptian youth.  The fear that our homeland may slip into a civil war was worrying us.  I was also personally worried about the safety of my loved ones back home.

Gladly, the people of Egypt managed to defeat one of the strongest dictatorships in the world with 1.8 million security force. 

The Egyptian heroes faced live bullets with their bare hands and the millions were able to force the police force to withdraw. 

The dictator has to make a concession after concession until he realized that the people are asking for their full freedom.  He was forced to resign and leave the Egyptian scene on February 11th

Egyptians are now free after 30 years of living under a brutal dictatorship.

When we were demonstrating in downtown Toronto on January 25th, the day the revolution started, we were only 30 Egyptians, including men and women.  We had banners and we chanted “Egypt will be free” and “down with Mubarak”.  Our fellow Canadians did not know yet what was happening. 

Our next rally, which took place only 5 days later, had several hundred including many non Egyptians.  Our last rally, which took place few days before the dictator fell, had several thousand including the right honorable Jack Layton and representative from the Liberal party.  During these 18 days, all free people were Egyptians! 

During these days, I received thousands of emails from many Egyptian lists.  These emails contained many interesting YouTube clips that document many of the major events of the revolution. 

After the dictator fell on February 11th, I decided to collect a number of links to these clips as a diary to the Egyptian revolution.  This diary will hopefully help me remember these historic days that I was lucky to live.  I thought of sharing it with others as well:

*June 6th, 2010: A young Egyptian man whose name is Khalid Said is brutally killed by Mubarak secret police in front of a large number of people in an internet café in Alexandria. 

He was targeted because he captured images of the Mubarak police dealing in drugs!  The government denies that the police killed him and say that he died because he fell on his face!  His close friend, Wael Ghonim, starts a Facebook group with the name “We are all Khalid Said”.  The group had over 4 million members by January 2011!  They called for massive rallies on January 25th to protest gross human rights violations and oppression.

*January 25th-January 27th: Peaceful demonstrations start in Egypt with hundreds of thousands in the streets.  January 25th, “Police Day” in Egypt, was selected to protest police brutality. 

Demonstrators denounced corruption, oppression, and torture.  At least 15 demonstrators killed by the Mubarak security forces during these 3 days.  A call is made for making Friday January 28th a day for a million man demonstration.

* January 25th: Egyptians demonstrate in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada in support of the revolution.  Canadians do not understand yet what is happening.

*January 28th (bloody Friday): 8 Millions in the streets all over Egypt clash with police force that responded by live ammunitions killing hundreds.  Police is withdrawn after it could not stop the protesters.  The army is sent to protect strategic locations.  The country is left without any police force for one night.  Bullies and thugs terrorize the population until the army increases its presence.  The president gives a speech saying that he asked the cabinet to resign.  Internet is blocked from the country to stop any coordination of further protests.  Protests continued to escalate despite all efforts to stop them.

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry of Waterloo, Ontario, member of the Editorial Board, The Canadian Charger  made a live video footage taken 2 pm - 12 midnight local time on Friday Jan 28, 2011 of a bridge over the Nile leading to Liberation square. Police uses battle field tactics to stop 1000s of protesters from reaching the square: attack, retreat, attack, retreat to wear off protesters. But some manage to stay on the bridge at night after police left. The Kasr Alneel (the palace of the Nile) bridge is named "lovers' bridge" as 100s couples stroll on it at night, every night. On Friday it was full of lovers - 1000s of them, men and women, old and young - those who loves freedom. They called for Mubarak, his family and his regime to leave Egypt. This footage was used by CNN, NYT and other international media.

*January 29th: Thousands of Canadians demonstrate all over Canada against the Mubarak regime.

*January 30th: scenes of atrocities committed on January 28th by the dictator’s forces are starting to spread over the internet.  Most victims received bullets by snipers in the head or the chest.  Some of these clips are graphic.

*January 30th: Mubarak appoints a VP in an attempt to cool down the demonstrations.   Dialogue starts with opposition that leads to nothing.

*February 1st, the US position on the Egyptian revolution is not clear.  The language used does not seem to convey clear messages to either side.

*February 2nd (The Wednesday massacre): Bullies of the ruling party assault the defenseless demonstrators in Tahrir square using camels, horses, molotov bombs, and weapons killing at least 15 and injuring hundreds many seriously.  The army refuses to interfere to stop the massacre that lasted for over 16 hours.  Many segments of society are now convinced that Mubarak’s promises are all useless.

*February 3rd: The sit-in in Tahrir square continues.  The square is now a small community that reflects a new spirit in Egypt.  It is a centre for demonstrations averaging two million participants happening almost every three days.

*February 4th: The government rounds up and assaults foreign journalists and human rights activists.  Mubarak’s new PM is embarrassed on CNN

*February 5th: Rally in Toronto in support of Egyptian people with the presence of the right honorable Jack Layton.  Speakers denounce the shameful position of the Conservative government supporting extending the life of dictatorship in Egypt.

*February 6th: the new Egyptian VP says in an interview that Egypt is not ready for democracy.  His words spur lots of anger in Egypt.  The demonstrations escalating.  Many workers starting going on strikes.

*February 7th: Wael Ghonim, the young software engineer who organized and initiated the revolution on Facebook is released after being arrested since January 28th.  His emotional TV interview stirs anger against Mubarak in Egypt and revives the revolution spirit.  He was handcuffed and blindfolded for 8 days:

*February 10th: Mubarak, in an attempt to stop the escalating demonstrations, gives a dismaying speech where he refuses to step down.  Egyptians raise their shoes as an act of despise and defiance to Mubarak and vows to continue to demonstrate.

*February 11th:  20 Million Egyptians take to the streets.  The army feels that the country is in serious danger.  The dictator Mubarak is forced to leave office and leave the capital with his family to unknown destination.  Rejoicing Egyptians in their tens of millions dance and sing in the streets.  The army temporarily controls the country and vows to execute the will of the people.

*February 12th: Egyptian Canadians celebrate the end of dictatorship in Egypt.

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On July 7, 2024 in Toronto, Canada, Dimitri Lascaris delivered a speech on the right to resist oppression.

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