I watched from my balcony overlooking the Nile yesterday evening- well after curfew- as Mubarak's NDP thugs streamed down the opposite shore, trucks blaring loud chants, horses and camels in the forefront, and crossed over and made their way to Tahrir Square to wreck havoc and turn a peaceful sit-in into a bloodbath. Anyone who still believes Mubarak should oversee a peaceful transition should be convinced. He has had thirty years to affect a "transition"- and all he knows is to resort to the same thuggery tactics that he and his party deploy every election season. Mubarak must go. If he stays, the events of the past ten days will be referred to as "the uprising of January 2011"; if he goes, we will talk of a revolution. We owe it to these brave young protesters to make it the latter.
The young have been the great revelation of this revolution. A generation accused of being alienated, apathetic, materialistic and unpatriotic, has proved to be responsible, involved, and ready to spring into action and sacrifice. They are everywhere, handling everything from traffic to trash to security check-points, calmly and politely.
When the looting was at its worst at night- when the government withdrew the police and let loose the criminals in the jails- the citizens guarded their homes themselves. After curfew every building and alley set up its own night watch from among the residents and doorkeepers. Most were armed with only a stick or a baseball bat, some had guns and chains to form road blocks. Creative would-be looters even tried coming across the Nile in small boats to residential island neighborhoods like Zamalek, but they were caught. During the day, people went about their business almost normally, quite calmly and civilly. That is the spirit of January 2011 that Egyptians can be proud of and must be remembered, in spite of the dismaying images that came out of Tahrir Square last night.