I have been watching with interest the popular protests that have broken out in Tunisia and swept over to Egypt before heading elsewhere in the Middle East. Today, I’m paying particular attention to Egypt, whose government has cut off all access to the Internet and cellphones in an attempt to stifle protests.
I’m hearing reports that governments in the area are watching the protests unfold a little nervously. It is being reported that the Israeli government is concerned at what might happen should the Mubarak dictatorship fall. And I can understand why governments and individuals alike might fear the chaos that could come should the protests escalate into a popular uprising. Anybody who remembers the events in Iran in 1979 probably shudders a little.
But I myself prefer to hope. I’m hearing reports that Egyptian Christians are standing guard against police action as Muslims pray, mirroring how Egyptian Muslims stood guard around Coptic Christian churches during their Christmas, protecting those inside against possible attacks by Al Queda. Given that news reporters are hearing no anti-American nor anti-Israeli chants, I think I’m seeing a downtrodden public that is rising up against their government simply for the desire of something better in their lives.
A part of me hopes that what we’re seeing is not a repeat of 1979, but a repeat of 1989, in Eastern Europe, and on the Berlin Wall.