Eyewitness report: a Jesuit in Cairo

pic: AsiaNews

pic: AsiaNews

Somehow it was a coincidence for me that when, 18 days ago, the political crisis in Egypt took a very serious turn I was in Cairo.  From yesterday, I happened to be in Cairo again witnessing a new era for Egypt and the Middle East.

On the evening of 10 February, protesters were expecting that Mubarak in his speech at 10.45 in the evening, would step down gracefully, handing over his power to the Vice President.  But it didn't happen and people got furious.  Within no time, thousands marched to his presidential palace and showed their utmost anger but without violence.  The military had their patience tested. On 11 February, being Friday and the weekly holiday, thousands and thousands of protesters - men and women which is not common in Islamic countries, started coming to the Tahrir Square, Cairo.

My meeting had got postponed so at 11am I decide to walk down from our Jesuit House to the Tahrir Square.  It was an enormous crowd and went on swelling up.  Nothing was clear and people were adamant to march to his palace which is no less than 15 km from Tahrir.  They did that group by group carrying their country flags, singing their anthem and chanting slogans.  At the same time, many more peole kept coming to Tahrir shouting slogans against the corrupt regime.  At 6.30pm, Vice President Omar Suleiman declared through the State television: "In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as President of the Republic.  He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the State.  God is our protector and succour."

Egypt exploded with joy, tears and relief as they heard the message.  The leader for three decades had disappeared. 'The people ousted the regime,' rang out chants everywhere.  Many raised their hands in prayers in an ecstatic pandemonium as fireworks and car horns keep sounding all over the country.

Forces Supreme Council - the military's top body - vowed to guide the country to greater democracy.  Let peace return in Egypt and kindly keep praying for its people and leaders.

Source: Jesuit Communications Office

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