Coupled with the peaceful insurrection that ousted long-time Tunisian despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the success of Egypt's pro-democracy movement represents another resounding triumph for nonviolent social transformation in a region long accustomed to autocratic, highly militarized government. The success of these efforts also offers a sharp contrast to the claims circulating in conservative circles that nonviolence and democracy are antithetical to Arab culture. From Stephen Zunes, a scholar of nonviolent social movements and advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict:
"While many observers have acknowledged how unarmed pro-democracy insurrections helped bring democracy to Eastern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia and Africa, they had discounted the chances of such movements in the region, despite Tunisia being far from the first. The protesters represent a broad coalition of young and old, Muslim and Christian, poor and middle class."The Obama administration and US policymakers must take heed; we can no longer continue propping up repressive autocrats in the Middle East under the false pretenses of the "stability" they offer. As Archbishop Tutu reminds us,
"History teaches us a categorical lesson: that once a people are determined to become free, then nothing in the world can stop them reaching their goal."Mubarak is gone, and now begins the arduous work of deconstructing thirty years of government corruption and oppression, and the delicate business of installing democratic governance in its place. As we continue to hold the freedom-loving people of Egypt in our thoughts and prayers, it is incumbent upon those of us here in the United States to hold our own government responsible for the policies that allow rulers like Hosni Mubarak to remain in power.