Abroad in London: Keeping an eye on the Middle East

Yesterday was not set to be a terribly exciting day but it definitely turned out to be. My friend Erika and I headed out in the morning to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery to jump start our weekend (and to get away from studying for our finals early next week).

We arrived in Trafalgar Square ready to take touristastic photos on top of the lions decorating Nelson’s Column. We were instead surprised by a huge demonstration by Amnesty International and other activists who were celebrating the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak.

Unless you’ve been completely shut off from the world as of late then you know that there have been major protess all around the Middle East – with the biggest one being in Egypt. The people of Egypt, using social media and word of mouth, organized huge protests in Cairo & Alexandria demanding the immediate resignation of President Mubarak. Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years but led the country into difficult economic times. On Jan. 25, the people decided that they had had enough.

For close to three weeks, Egyptians of all ages took to the streets to voice their disapproval of the government and their want for change. Then on Feb. 11 – after vowing that he would not step down – President Mubarak resigned as president and handed over the government to the military. The Egyptian people, and people of all nations, rejoiced with this historic moment. So when we saw the rally in support of the people of Egypt, I really wasn’t surprised. I was actually really excited.

As a journalism student, I had been glued to the Internet and television to get every little bit of information I could about the situation in Egypt. I became angry when I heard that journalists were being attacked by pro-Mubarak protesters and didn’t understand how a president could continue after hearing his people’s desire for more democracy. And while my profession calls for impartiality, I am bound by my strong beliefs in human rights. Either way, everything leading up to the rally this afternoon has been really exciting.

Originally slated as an anti-Mubarak demonstration, the rally turned to a celebration after Mubarak’s resignation yesterday. The rally was filled with Middle Eastern activists, Londoners who support their cause and pretty much anyone who was mildly interested in what was going on. The mood and energy was amazing. People of all ages were holding up posters and waving Egyptian flags. People were chanting “one, two, three, Egypt is free!” and “three, two, one Mubarak is gone!” It was definitely a sight to behold and I’m glad I got to witness it.

Now I guess we must all wait and see what happens in Egypt and how events will unfold in the Middle East. Maybe we’re in for a season filled with democratic revolutions, who knows.

- Nikki Rojas, Blog Contributor

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