The revolution is not over in Egypt, and all the objectives are not yet realised and may well not be, but Egyptians are rightly proud of the way that the 25th January revolution was conducted.
A foreign news reporter friend of mine who covered the whole period in Tahrir Square said that it was one of three best events he had covered in his long career. His next assignment was Tripoli, followed by Benghazi.
I met him in a hotel bar on his way back from Benghazi a week ago. ‘How did the Libyan experience compare’? I wanted to know. This is what he said:
Tripoli two months ago is very different to the city now. Then he could slip the minder and get into Zawiyah through back roads, and find Libyans in opposition – but he could see that it put them in danger, the security men moved in fast and ominously. Now journalists there are confined to the hotel, unless heavily escorted to pre-selected places.
The conflict in Libya is nastier. Increasingly the rebels are taking prisoners and giving hospital treatment to regime soldiers, but it was not always the case. Emotions understandably run high with deaths of old people, women and children from grad rockets fired into homes and snipers deliberately targeting – especially in Misrata.
The most attractive trait he treasured though was the honesty, generosity and, strange to say, innocence of the Libyans he met in Benghazi. Somewhat isolated from the world in these decades, there is little world-weariness and cynicism. They have a taste of freedom in their mouth and they want to savour it for the rest of their lives and those of their children.
Current events in the Middle east demonstrate that indeed the Egyptians (and Tunisians) have much be be proud of. Other regimes though perhaps take note that the departing president and their families are being called to account now.