I am taking a pause in the Romans series to make a couple comments about the events that have recently transpired in Egypt. In just a matter of a couple of weeks, a country went from being under the oppressive rule of a totalitarian regime to being free of that leadership and on the road toward a new era in her history. I am going to say it right now: I am proud of the Egyptian people. They have stood against tyranny and won. We don’t know where things are headed, only God does, but we can say with certainty that Egypt, and, for that matter, the rest of the Arab world, will never be the same.
I am also proud of Mubarak. Despite being a dictator and a tyrant and guilty of stifling freedom, he has shown, I believe, his true colors. At first, he was going to stand his ground and keep his word. But, in the face of overwhelming opposition to his continued presence, even after he relinquished all power to his vice president, he was wise enough to admit that this was one promise not worth keeping. When it comes down to it, despite everything, he left with his dignity somewhat intact and, I think, even gained some respect from the people of Egypt. He is to be commended for that.
In all of this, though, there is one thing that the talking heads seem to be ignoring. It is something that I am surprised that even the American Islamic community is not being more vocal about. And it is that that I want to spend a couple moments talking about.
According to the latest data that I can find, Egypt is 91% Muslim, only 9% of the population is Christian, a couple thousand people practice Bahai, and there are a couple hundred Jews. Let me say this without the numbers: The vast majority of the people in Egypt are Muslims. The reason this is important is because the way that the Egyptians “took down” their government flies in the face of conventional media wisdom. These Muslims were nonviolent. They literally overthrew their government by literally standing outside and not moving.
Why does this fly in the face of conventional wisdom? Because, according to the media, especially conservative media, Islam is a violent religion, bent on world domination. Muslims attacked us on September 11th. Muslims are the ones blowing themselves up on buses and outside Christian churches in the name of Allah. It is Islamic fundamentalism that is invigorating the home-grown terror threat that we have been warned is out there…somewhere…it might be your neighbor…or that guy over there…
The media has the American people convinced that Islam is a violent religion.
Then comes Egypt.
A country pretty much entirely Muslim and what do they do? They demand freedom. So what do they do? They strap bombs to themselves and assassinate their president right? Wrong. They walk out into Liberation Square and…stand there. They call, loudly, for the resignation of their dictator. They talk to CNN. The Muslim Brotherhood, those evil guys who want world domination…do the same. In fact, according to Wael Ghonim, they were not even involved in the protests in any real way. Their stance was hands-off.
A majority Muslim nation has demanded freedom, and been granted their request, without any violence on the part of those desiring freedom. Let that sink in for a moment before continuing.
This has some profound implications for us as well.
For starters, it says to all of those who claim that nonviolence doesn’t work that, in all actuality, it does. Egypt proves it. Even when the people were attacked by pro-government thugs, their response was not to retaliate, but simply to defend themselves and stand their ground. And when the thugs left, the people mourned their dead and continued the fight for freedom. Would that we could do the same. Zealots flew planes into our buildings and, instead of strengthening our borders, we carpet bombed cities. We could learn a lot from the example of the Egyptians in regards to defeating totalitarianism.
Secondly, and I hinted at it above, but I am going to be blunt about it now: what happened in Egypt proves that Islam is not a violent religion. And even if Islam does teach violence, the majority of the adherents of the faith obviously don’t live by those principles, for if they did, the liberation of Egypt would have looked a whole lot different than it did.
But, more importantly than that, it shows us who are Christians something about ourselves that we need to do some serious soul-searching over. These followers of Mohammed looked a lot more like Jesus than many of us do. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, like Christ, they took the beatings and continued to remain “silent” and refused to fight back. In a very real sense, they turned the other cheek. Their government was mean to them and they simply said, “We respect you but we want you to step down.” It is a truly sad day when men and women who are not followers of Christ look more like Christ than those who claim to follow Him.