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Fireworks, carnival erupt at toppling of “Pharaoh”
Celebrations in Tahrir Square, across Egypt; Egyptians got their dignity back", protester says; Protesters declare end to injustice, see hope for future
February 12, 2011 12:18 by Reuters
Egyptians declared triumph over their “Pharaoh” on Friday, dancing, singing, cheering and waving flags in a massive street party to celebrate the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak.
“We have brought down the regime, we have brought down the regime,” chanted the hundreds of thousands packed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the heart of protests that toppled Mubarak in a show of people power unprecedented in Egypt’s modern history.
They cried, embraced and ululated when the news reached them through a public address system. Fireworks burst over Tahrir Square as Egyptians wept in joy and disbelief at a day some never thought would come.
“We have done something unprecedented in 7,000 years, we have brought down the Pharaoh. Egypt is free, it will never go back to what it was, we won’t let it,” said Tareq Saad, a 51-year-old carpenter in the square.
Egyptians from all walks of life, Muslims and Christians, liberals and Islamists, poured into central Cairo to join a street party that ran late into the night. Cars choked the streets, honking in celebration and flying the Egyptian flag.
The two weeks of protests have united the many Egyptians who have long harboured deep grievances against Mubarak, from young people who have never been to be able to find a job to activists who have faced political oppression and others who have suffered brutality at the hands of the police.
Many said they finally saw hope of a better future in a country which they feel has lost its place as the political, cultural and economic heart of the Arab world.
“Corruption and 30 years of injustice are over,” said Alaa al-Naggar, a 23-year-old. “I felt we had no value as humans. Now, Egyptians are proud of their country,” he said.
“The Egyptians got their dignity back. We did it, that’s what counts,” said Fatima Mahfouz, a psychologist. “It’s amazing, I am in disbelief,” said the 32-year old, one of many Egyptians who remember no president other than Mubarak.
“I am proud to be Egyptian, that’s the only way I can say it … We are finally going to get a government we choose, perhaps we will finally get to have the better country we always dreamed of,” said Rasha Abu Omar, 29, a call centre worker.
Cars and music filled the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt’s second city. “Game Over!” and “Checkmate” read some of the banners in Tahrir Square.
The square, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “Liberation”, turned into a sea of red, white and black Egyptian flags. Some chanted: “God alone brought down Mubarak.” “I’m so happy with what happened to the Egyptian people,” said Tareq Ismail, an engineer. “God willing we will become the emerging African tiger, we will become one of the great nations,” he said.
“I’m one of the ones who helped take him down. I’ve been out here for 17 days. The future of Egypt is now in the hands of the people,” said singer Hani Sobhy, 31, celebrating in the square.
“We can’t believe it. This is the end of all the injustices,” said Mohammed Abu Bakr, 17, a student. Mubarak handed power to the army, ending his three decades at the helm of the Arab world’s largest nation.
Outside Egypt’s state television building, protesters shook hands with soldiers who had been stationed there to protect the building. Some jumped up on to their tanks.
“I can’t believe I am going to see another president in my lifetime!” said Sherif el-Husseiny, a 33-year old lawyer. “Nothing can ever stop the Egyptian people any more. It’s a new era for Egypt,” he said.
“This should have happened a week ago,” said Hassan Abdel Halim, a retired sports coach. “The only problem is that it’s now military rule. I would have liked a smooth transition through elections. Now it has to be military rule but hey, that’s what the people want,” he said,
Saad el Din Ahmed, a 65-year-old tailor, said: “I only have two words to say: ‘Nightmare gone!’.”
By Shaimaa Fayed and Tom Perry
(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed; Alexander Dziadosz; Patrick Werr and Andrew Hammond; editing by David Stamp)