News / Middle East

What It Was Like in Tahrir Square When Mubarak Resigned

VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott was in Cairo's Tahrir Square and describes the reaction to the announcement that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned

Egyptian citizens stand on an Egyptian military tank as they celebrate after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, February 11, 2011
Egyptian citizens stand on an Egyptian military tank as they celebrate after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, February 11, 2011

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The mood on Tahrir Square is absolutely jubilant. As many people are saying "Welcome to the New Egypt."

After news that the army was going to be taking over, and that the parliament was stepping down, Egyptians just turned out on the streets en mass. We had people hugging and singing, they've been playing patriotic songs here on the square, with people bowing in prayer.

The familiar chants of "the people and the army are one" have come true for many people, and with the army in charge, people are really celebrating. It might seem odd for such celebrations after an army takeover, but in fact, that's the way the regime they were trying to oust came to power.

There are also other voices to be heard, many in the crowd were also chanting "only God made the regime step down."

But there are also a mixture and a tolerance here, with some saying "the Crescent and the Cross together," signs of the Coptic Christians here in Egypt, a minority that has often felt alienated.

After the regular Muslim prayer was finished many people continued to bow in prayer, thankful for this day after 18 days.

After 18 days of protests that had been for the most part peaceful, but erupted at various points into violence that by some estimates claimed 300 lives or more, there was indeed, mention of the people who died during the protests with vows from some of the speakers saying they would carry on the struggle of the martyrs.

View the slide show of protests and reaction

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