WATERLOO — Egypt is about to turn, and Khalid Baheyeldin of Waterloo can feel it coming.
“This is a rebirth of Egyptians and Egypt alike,” said Baheyeldin in an interview by email. His phone lines were busy with calls to his extended family in Egypt.
“This is history in the making,” he said.
Baheyeldin, a software consultant, was born and educated in Egypt. He is in constant contact with his mother, brother and extended family who still live there.
And with a couple of cousins participating in the protests that have pushed Hosni Mubarak’s regime to the edge, Baheyeldin is feeling many things.
Pride and happiness are high on the list, for him.
“Finally, Egyptians — especially youth — have risen against tyranny, without assistance from anyone, and took matters in their own hands,” he said.
“The fear barrier has been forever broken. No ruler can intimidate the people any longer.”
Baheyeldin lived in Egypt until age 28 and wishes his generation had been brave enough to defy the regime.
“My generation, and my father’s, were afraid, and silent. We should have done this 60 years ago after the 1952 military coup d’etat took over, and dissolved the parliament and abolished political parties,” he said.
Whether their reasons for watching Egypt are personal or professional, most observers agree that the Mubarak regime is going down.
“It’s hard for me to imagine Mubarak staying in charge,” said Mark Sedra, a political scientist who is a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, as well as a professor at University of Waterloo.
One sign that Mubarak may be on the way out is the recent promise by the Egyptian military that they won’t fire on peaceful protesters. This could be a sign that they are turning away from Mubarak despite the fact that he is one of them, a former commander of the Egyptian Air Force.
If the military refuses to put down Tuesday’s protests, which are expected to involve a million people, “we could be seeing that turning point,” said Sedra.
Whatever comes next for Egypt, it will likely be “messy,” he said.
Sedra said it’s possible that a new government will hold free and fair elections.
And at the same time, he predicts a democratically elected government in Egypt will likely take a tougher stand on Israel than Mubarak did.
Baheyeldin agrees that turmoil and democracy are both on the way.
“I am optimistic that democracy will happen,” he said. “Some false starts as we learn,
like a recovering patient in physiotherapy.
“We have to learn political processes that we have not been allowed to practice for 60 years. After a while, things will stabilize and the rebuilding of Egypt will continue.
“What is coming after all the dust settles will be a better Egypt than what it has been in the last several decades.”