"Harraka," or "the burners," according to a CNN report, are North African men and women who enter Europe illegally. They burn their passports and documents upon arrival to avoid being sent back to their oppressive homes. One man, Muhammad Al Bouazizi, found his own form of "harraka." On Dec. 17, 2010, Al Bouazizi set himself on fire outside of Tunisia's government building. In the CNN report, "How a fruit seller caused revolution in Tunisia," explains that Al Bouazizi, an educated man, could not find employment, so he opened a fruit stand. The area's military shut down his stand, saying that he did not have the proper documentation to run the stand. Tunisia citizens reacted to the oppression of Al Bouazizi and his death with demonstrations and protests against the oppressive system they were living under. On Jan. 4, pressure from the demonstrators forced Tunisia President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Egypt Follows in Footsteps of Tunisia
Egyptian citizens soon followed Tunisia by protesting their government. However, they protested on a much larger scale. The revolt began on Jan. 25 with estimates of 20,000 protestors filling the streets of Cairo, especially the Tahrir Square. On Feb. 10, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave power to Vice President Omar Suleiman. However, Mubarak refused to give up the presidency. Government officials and employees joined the protestors in force and by Feb. 11 Mubarak resigned and fled to the safety of a coastal city. Power was transferred to the Supreme Court of the Armed Forces and reconstruction began, as well as a road to a democratic government.
Inspiring the Middle East
This revolution not only inspired Egyptian people to speak up and have their voices and demands heard, but it has also inspired other Middle Eastern citizens to protest their governments. Iraq citizens organized demonstrations to express their concerns and Yemen citizens clashed with police during various demonstrations. The Egyptian citizens tasted the power of having their voices heard. They now recognize the power of the people to bring about change. They have experienced many things people in the United States take for granted, such as the right to free speech, the right to free press and the right to demonstrate and protest peacefully. Through these experiences the Egyptians have become empowered.
Empowerment is Unspoken
Empowerment is an unspoken undercurrent at Wilson College. Wilson's "Statement of Guiding Values," which lists the values the College wishes all students understand includes, "offering young women the opportunity for an education equal to that afforded to young men."
One concern Egyptian citizens want addressed by the new government is the ability for the citizens to have a say in their future. At one time women in the U.S. were oppressed and not given an opportunity to have a voice, just like the Egyptian citizens experienced until recently. Wilson College is founded on principles that empower women to have a voice and to have an education.
At Wilson College we are taught that we have a voice, we can lead and that we are empowered from the first day we step onto campus. Egyptians have discovered this for themselves and the world watches closely as they develop their newfound voice.