The world will not soon forget the scene in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Friday, the day that President Hosni Mubarak announced he was stepping down from his 30-year rule after 18 days of protests.
“This is what freedom looks like,” NBC’s Ron Allen shouted from the square, surrounded by celebrants. “This is the moment so many people in this country have waited for. . . . People cannot contain themselves.”
An anchor asked Allen whether he saw parallels with the U.S. civil rights movement. “This is so profound in so many ways, it’s hard to compare historical movements,” Allen demurred.
As with the civil rights movement, though, the beneficiaries of Egypt’s historical movement included journalists and other communicators.
“Dear Mubarak, if it took destroying my car and me getting beaten up for you to leave, it was WORTH IT!” tweeted Mahmoud Salem, an Egyptian digital media businessman and a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston who goes by the name Sandmonkey.
“Egyptian journalists who have courageously found ways to work under the yoke of Mubarak’s censorship and repression are releasing a sigh of relief that they’ve held in for three long decades,” Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote.
“I just received confirmation that Karim Amer, a blogger and longtime critic of Mubarak who was seized by state agents on Monday, was just released from custody. Amer had recently served a four-year prison term for his writing. That means that all detained journalists whom CPJ had been tracking over the past 18 days are now free.
“Here’s one of the most moving things I heard today: I was talking to a friend who was demonstrating outside the headquarters of the state broadcaster. In his immediate vicinity was a journalist who, in an effort not to stand out, was discreetly using a small flip-camera to film the scene and a small notepad to take notes. As the official announcement was made that Mubarak had stepped down, the crowd roared in approval.