Amazing pictures are coming out from Egypt despite the typically repressive measures by the corrupt Mubarak regime to harass journalists and close down internet communication inside the country.
The Daily Telegraph’s Live Update on Egypt reported (quoting from an AFP report) at 17.24 that many of the protestors in Cairo were also venting their anger at the USA because the tear gas being used against them by the Egyptian police was manufactured in the USA and almost certainly provided to the Mubarak regime as part of the USA’s military aid to the country.
The huge turnout in Cairo and elsewhere in the country coincides with the Jumu’ah (Friday congregational) prayers. So as we were saying our prayers in the UK, tens of thousands of Egyptians had earlier streamed out of their mosques to speak out and demand a change of government. Dictatorial regimes in the region are terrified of the power of the jumu’ah prayer and they routinely appoint civil servants as the prayer leaders so that they can try and control the message being delivered in the mosques.
It reminds me of a passage I read many years ago in one of Sayyid Mawdudi’s books where he said that Islam had built-in revival mechanisms. Whereas other monotheistic faiths have become distorted from their original teachings (eg, Christianity with its polytheistic trinity and Judaism with its narrow tribalism), Islam remains staunchly monotheistic and universalist. The Hajj (pilgrimage to Makka) and the Jumu’ah prayer are part of Islam’s built-in mechanisms for organisation, revival and renewal.
Anyway, here’s to hoping and praying that the Egyptian people gain their freedom soon and that they have a government that is genuinely representative, democratic and worthy of them. Much of the press commentary seems to revolve around the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood could take power if Mubarak falls. The Brothers (Ikhwan) are not all demons and nor are they all saints. However, they are without doubt a major established component of Egyptian society and no government that deliberately excludes them from sharing power could be truly representative.
Update: The Guardian (quoting Time Magazine) at 7.30pm GMT has this revealing Live Update on their website which gives an inkling into how terrified the Israelis are of democratic change in the Arab world.
Time magazine talks to “a minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” and reports that Israel appears to be backing the Mubarak regime:
With a deep investment in the status quo, Israel is watching what a senior official calls “an earthquake in the Middle East” with growing concern. The official says the Jewish state has faith in the security apparatus of its most formidable Arab neighbor, Egypt, to suppress the street demonstrations that threaten the dictatorial rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The harder question is what comes next.
But this was the most eye-catching quote from the unidentified minister:
“I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”