12 Feb 2011

Euphoria sweeps Arab states

5:00 pm on 12 February 2011

A wave of euphoria has swept Arab states in the wake of the departure of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, with jubilant crowds taking to the streets from Gaza to Beirut.

While the turmoil has alarmed leaders from North Africa to the Gulf, it has captivated many ordinary Arabs who never imagined they might hold their destiny in their own hands.

Across the Middle East and north Africa, loudspeakers on mosques called on citizens to rejoice.

Beirutis popped champagne in the streets, kissing Egyptian flags to the sound of celebratory gunfire.

Palestinians turned out en masse up and down the Gaza Strip, joyfully shooting in the air and honking their car horns.

In Tunisia, a carnival atmosphere took hold as throngs crowded the streets; and in Jordan, already the scene of budding protests, more than 3000 people gathered outside the Egyptian embassy, exchanging sweets and flowers and shooting fireworks into the night sky.

Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, said the events in Egypt presented an opportunity to build a national consensus.

Iran described the recent events as a "great victory", and Lebanon's Hizbollah movement congratulated Egyptians on their "historic victory".