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With peace, Egyptians overthrow a dictator

INTERACTIVE TIMELINE
Eighteen days of anti-government demonstrations drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resign after almost 30 years in power.

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On Friday night in Tahrir Square, the euphoria was intoxicating and the joy unparalleled, as women and men made up songs to celebrate their victory. The Qasr Al Nil Bridge that leads to the square was filled with people blowing horns and swaying to the music blasting from cars.

"Hold your head up high. You are Egyptian," protesters chanted after the announcement that Mubarak would step down.

People wept for the dead, but with pride and a sense of nationalism that they said they had never had before. A circle of men and women chanted to the beat of a drum, "You can sleep peacefully now," a reference to those who were killed.

"This is the holiest place on the planet," said Hassan Abu Baqr. The university professor came to the square from the hospital, where his granddaughter had been born just as Mubarak's ouster was announced. He calls her the "liberation baby."

He stood on the side of the road and congratulated each person who passed him.

"Where else on the planet do you have a people that overthrow their dictator completely peacefully," he said.

Nearby, Marwan Saleh, 34, stood silent and absorbed every moment. By phone, he updated his Facebook status to tell people about the joy, the flags waving in the air and the songs being sung about the love of Egypt. For now the battle was over. The battle was won, he said.

"Today, finally, after all these days, after all the injustices, after all the killing. Now it's time to enjoy and celebrate," he said. "We will never forget the people who died for this."


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