11 February 2011


Christians Protecting Muslims During Prayers
photo by @NevineZaki

THE HISTORIC EVENTS OF THE PAST 18 DAYS — the millions marching through the main cities of Egypt, the takeover of Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the military 'standing down' with civilians have captivated the entire world.

Revolution came with the explosion of not bombs but Tweets — replete with acronyms like #Jan25 and #Tahrir attached. Through means both electronic and personal, a new language fused into a kind of morse code of oneness.

The propelling force of this worldwide sway in emotion were the Egyptian people, of course, who with courage and peaceful tenacity snuffed out the corrupt leadership of President Hosni Mubarak. Now, the world has witnessed and will forever know that anything is possible if the people will it to be so.

As a result of the unbelievable events of the past few weeks, some Westerners, particularly in the United States now fear the uncertainty of this Egyptian revolution — and wonder whether this is another sign of the Mideast “turning against us” only to become another Islamic state. This self-obsessive anxiety is fueled by the likes of Faux News and greedy internationalists who just want the world to run the way they see fit.

But it can be no more.

As citizens, too many of us have disassociated ourselves from the truth regarding U.S. foreign policy. We have turned our heads away from the cries on the streets from El Salvador to El-Mahalla el-Kubra. And the truth is, we are accountable. We are responsible for our plain ignorance — our utter refusal over the decades and generations to create a more genuine and unfettered relationship with the both the Egyptian people and the Arab world en masse.

We are accountable for the fact that in 30 years, we never helped Egyptians facilitate their own social and democratic change. We backed the 'strongman' again. We backed the military. . .again. This cannot continue.

The people of Egypt have shown us this.

We need to change. We need to care about legislation, interactions with other nations and current events. We need to know history.

THE LAST TIME EGYPT FACED NEW LEADERSHIP, it came in a fire of bullets and hand grenades. Thirty years later, most Americans still have little or no consciousness of the leader who died that day: Anwar Sadat. This too, reflects our collective arrogance; it betrays our laziness and uncaring about foreign policy — and how those policies affect real human beings. 

Sadat was an army general before becoming president, and fought Israel mightily as a warrior. The Egyptian President later signed the “Camp David Accords,” the treaty with Israel. As president, he wanted to make peace with Egypt's longstanding enemy — and did. He won the Nobel Peace Prize, but the latter years of Sadat's eleven-year reign were tumultuous, and ended with his assassination.

The Mubarak era had begun. 

Three decades hence, as we have all witnessed, bullets did not determine the outcome...peaceful exertion did. Among the chants heard by western journalists was "Muslims...Christians...We are One." 

The people are reclaiming their nation.

Today we see that there is hope for a better world. There is hope for peaceful change — even at home.

The people of Egypt have shown us this.

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