Like countless others, for years I have dreamt of the day when liberty, justice and equal opportunity would reign in my country. And, like many others, I paid dearly for this universal dream. For years, for the young and not-so-young alike, daring to defy dictatorship meant arrest, torture, imprisonment, humiliation and exclusion. The oft-repeated dream had become an impossible aspiration, buried in the very depths of our being.
The years passed and the spectacle of our countries under the yoke of tyranny seemed set to last. We ended up believing that our people were cursed to choose between dictatorship on one hand and religious fundamentalism on the other. Because wanting democracy, when we were so “unsuitable” for such a system, meant by definition that we were doomed to submission. And yet the voices never fell silent, free men and women continued to defy prohibition and oppression, refusing to be bowed. Everyone resisted however they could.
The divine surprise came from deepest Tunisia, eternal Tunisia, where a young man offered up his life at the altar of freedom and dignity. Mohamed Bouazzizi, followed by dozens of other martyrs, lit the fuse that would inflame the entire country. What happened next is well known: the tyrant fled in the face of popular demand, and Tunisia was free, alive with youth and ready to rebuild.
And then Egypt, whose people had suffered under the same breed of dictator —despite its timeless history, also rose and claimed its dignity. For weeks, the entire world moved to the beat of Tahrir Square. The songs of Sheikh Imam, evoking a beautiful, eternal Egypt, were sung by millions of young and old alike. Mubarak faltered momentarily, and then let go, just like Ben Ali. The despots had been toppled by their people, the revolution was won. What marvellous news for humanity.
A sense of freedom, happiness and youthfulness reigns over both countries, and the entire world. Everything is possible, the curse has been lifted. Prohibition is banned, and dreaming permitted, because springtime has returned to Arab lands.
A member of the “Museum With No Frontiers” family.