Egyptian youth changed Egypt, the Middle East and the world

To describe the events of Feb. 11 as historic may be an understatement. The event on Friday was a cosmic event.  On this day the Egyptian people, most of whom are under 30 years of age, succeeded in ousting their president and toppling a 30-year-old corrupt regime.

This changed the Middle East and potentially the world as will become evident in the future.

We watched with the world closely as an uprising began on Jan. 25 in the heart of the Middle East, in Egypt. For decades, Egypt has been our stable and close ally.

Our government had supported Hosni Mubarak for decades under the impression that he stood between us and chaos, a theory propagated by the fallen Mubarak regime to instill fear and maintain a stronghold on Egypt.

Historically, Egypt has played a pivotal role in the world for over 7,000 years and Egyptian youth have now proven that they will continue to do so for generations to come.

Egypt has shown us the world’s most peaceful revolution. Egyptian youth are an example to the world.

For nine days they stood in peaceful protest demanding change and democracy. In the face of police brutality, they remained peaceful. With over two million civilians on the streets without a defined leadership, this revolution has turned out to be one for the history books.

A country within a country is how Tahrir Square is repeatedly described by eyewitness reports. Men, women and children. Young and old. Rich and poor. Muslims and Christians.

Tahrir Square was organized to accommodate over two million protestors of this revolution. Pictures showed Muslims praying their daily prayers and Christians standing guard to protect them.

Sunday Mass was also celebrated in Tahrir Square. Once prayer time was over, they were all united Egyptians chanting for freedom, peace, unity and social justice.

The Egyptian military which is held in high esteem also conducted itself in an exemplary fashion and acted with great restraint.

The youth were confident that unlike the brutal police force, the military would never use lethal force against the people of Egypt.

Freedoms that we take for granted here were non-existent under the Mubarak regime. Oppression had finally reached the point where the only dignified thing to do was to revolt. For the first time in history, the main chant of the revolution is “selmeya,” or “peaceful.”

With these feelings, Egyptian youth stood their ground day and night demanding democracy. When the world hesitated to speak up, they believed in themselves.

Egypt now belongs to the people of Egypt. Thanks to the young men and women who broke the barrier of fear, who had the courage to rise up and scream, “The people demand a change of regime.”

On Feb. 11, Egyptian youth showed the world that violence is not the answer, that peaceful resistance can be a very powerful tool, and that unity can stand in the face of entrenched dictatorships.

As we congratulate Egyptians on their newfound freedom, we encourage students to follow the coming events in the Middle East as the call for democracy that started in Tunisia and grew in Egypt is bound to mature in the Middle East.


Dr. Ola Elsaid is a sleep physician who grew up in Egypt and has lived in the U.S. for the past 15 years. She attended medical school in Cairo and is now studying in the Executive MBA program at the Oakland University School of Business Administration.