Egyptian uprising is not religious but spiritual
A lot of people have commented on my post yesterday, where I wondered whether the Egyptian uprising was Islamic. Many visitors have posted their comments, some of them rather strong, supporting and opposing the idea. I personally don’t think the uprising has anything to do with religion. In fact, if religion has to be dragged into this revolt, it has to do with the realisation of a new religion in the region — freedom. Beyond that, I believe, it is the spirit of the nation that’s behind this physical regime change call.
Coincidentally, the Egyptian uprising comes in the first World Interfaith Harmony Week, to promote dialogue and civility among the world’s religions. And almost as if it is part of a greater scheme of things, the Egyptian rebellion — following Tunisia and now spewing into Yemen — has become an interfaith movement.
“Seeing the Egyptian protests on American media may lead you to believe that this is an Iranian-style revolution, with a probable result being an Islamic regime,” writes Frank Fredericks, executive director of World Faith, in the Washington Post. “However, when you look at the details of what is happening on the ground, this is an interfaith movement.” You can read his argument here.
“First was the secularism of the whole affair,” writes Robert Fisk in The Independent. “Women in chadors and niqabs and scarves walked happily beside girls with long hair flowing over their shoulders, students next to imams and men with beards that would have made Bin Laden jealous. The poor in torn sandals and the rich in business suits, squeezed into this shouting mass, an amalgam of the real Egypt hitherto divided by class and regime-encouraged envy. They had done the impossible — or so they thought — and, in a way, they had already won their social revolution.”
But nothing touched me more than this amazing picture of interfaith harmony at work in Egypt during the Interfaith Week. The picture, tweeted by @NevineZaki from ground zero in Cairo, shows young Christian men protecting their Muslim brothers from potential violence by dictator Hosni Mubarak’s men, by forming a human chain around them as they prayed. Take a look at this picture too, of Muslims praying “at dusk in the shadow of the army, bloodied but unbowed.”
More than religion, Egypt is the inner expression of a nation’s spirit. The spirit of the people who were born free and yearn to throw away the artificial chains that they have been bound in for three decades. There is no leader but the people are moving towards one goal — the ouster of Mubarak — in one huge wave, again led by an invisible spirit. Leaderless but united, call it patriotism obscured by clouds of anguish. In the process, people are getting injured, dying. But nothing is stopping this wave — not Mubarak and his military goons, not the US that has been backing this dictator (and many others in the region in its unending lust for oil), not even the UN.
Cynics and analysts are sending out dire forecasts — that Egypt will become an Islamic state and unleash terror across the world. A people’s movement for freedom and democracy is being ridiculed by countries that pretend to deliver democracy and mouth freedom. They are being judged right now, on TV, on Twitter, on blogs. The crisis is equally theirs.
This, dear leaders, is a fight between the forces of good and evil. These forces are being symbolised by the people on one side and status-quoist dictators and their political economy well-wishers on the other. In this truly remarkable and historic moment, you need to sit up and decide which side you stand on. Please try to be on the right side of history and save us the embarrassment of seeing a spineless leadership.