An Insider’s Perspective on Egypt Today

In response to a plea from the minister of defense, an incredible number of people took to the streets of Cairo on July 26 to show their solidarity against the aggressive and disruptive behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) protestors. Like they did on June 30, the “Silent Majority”—who usually sit at home and watch political events on their TV screens—voted with their feet, taking to the streets in very large numbers. People went to the demonstration sites from every conceivable place. It was an amazing night of celebration and jubilation, affirming together an Egypt where all are respected as equal citizens.

Highlights of July 26

  1. Christians eating with Muslims in public squares during the Ramadan breaking-of-the-fast. This unprecedented act of unity between Christians and Muslims has never happened on this scale in Egypt.
  2. When the call to break the fast was announced at sunset, all church bells in Egypt rang in solidarity with their Muslim compatriots.
  3. With an estimated 40 million people on the streets, remarkably few incidents of violence, petty theft, and harassment of women were reported.
  4. The euphoria of the people lasted all night as massive crowds again expressed their rejection of the “Political Islam” agenda of the MB.

What You See on Your TV Screens

So why are the media giving you a completely different impression of what’s happening in Egypt?

What you’ve seen are the “other” demonstrations by ousted MB supporters. For the past month they have been camped on major streets in Cairo and elsewhere to angrily and often violently protest Mohamed Morsi’s removal as president. On Jazeera, CNN, and most other Western channels, instead of showing the millions of happy and peaceful demonstrators, the cameras only focus on tens of thousands of angry protestors as well as shocking photos of wounded and dead victims of pro-Morsi demonstrations.

While much of what you see in the media is true, it represents a selective perspective of what’s really happening. The claim that the MB are “peaceful demonstrators” runs contrary to the violence and brutality we’re experiencing on our streets. Anyone with the misfortune of walking or driving close to one of their demonstrations is taking his life in his hands. (Many of my friends have had close calls.) The real nightmare, however, is for those who live close to the sit-ins. They are becoming increasingly angered by the complete disruption of their daily lives.

Yes, there have been unfortunate, violent responses by the army, police, and ordinary citizens against protestors marching to military and security buildings or attempting to block major highways. But most Egyptians, despite their disdain for the MB, oppose Egypt turning into a police—or worse, army—state and have been putting much pressure on security forces to be restrained in their response to the MB agitators. Most of us yearn for a civil state run democratically.

At the same time, the vast majority of Egyptians agree that the month-long disruption of normal life by these protesters must end. The crowds on July 26 were there to give the government that very message.

What Happens Next?

Many of you have experienced similar sit-ins during the Wall Street demonstrations in the United States and others in London, other European cities, and Turkey. In all these cases, the police used force because the demonstrators were unarmed. In our case, however, it’s difficult to use force against people who will retaliate violently.

Please pray for the Egyptian leadership as they try to figure out a way to disband the demonstrators without shedding blood.

At the Bible Society, we’re working hard to produce materials that will help encourage Egyptians to love their fellow citizens even if they disagree with them politically. The widespread hatred against the MB is very worrisome.

Please pray for us as we communicate the radical, biblical mandate to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21) and to love even those we consider our enemies (Matt. 5:44).

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  • Curt Day

    What will be interesting is the next step to be taken by the Egyptian Revolutionaries especially in the light of the fact that Egypt has also restored its secret police and many past leaders from the Mubarak regime. Will the revolution stop here with the military still firmly in control or will the Revolutionaries press on for more freedoms and a full democracy or will the Egyptian people be content with the current status quo because it is sans the rulership of the Muslim Brotherhood? Part of this question also depends on whether the military control now being exercised will diminish as time goes on.

    Yes, the above lists some positive benefits to the end of the Muslim Brotherhood rule. But what is the future is the more pressing question.

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  • Farid P Wissa

    It is very instructive to see how CNN BBC & Al Jazeera are selective in their news coverage of the latest events in Egypt to show the side they are on instead of the true picture of what is going on in Egypt. Thank you Ramez for sharing the viewpoint of an actual participant in these events

    • Curt Day

      News companies being selective is not new. When I taught, all of my colleagues from other countries would constantly tell me that one of the telling characteristics of America is how filtered the news is here. Chomsky and Herman wrote Manufacturing Consent to document how those in charge of reporting the news filter both the factual and emotional end of reporting the news in order to help shape opinion.

  • Jason @

    Praying for you, and thanks for helping us know what’s happening on the ground. One of my best friends moved his family to Cairo this week, and it’s encouraging to see the unity amongst different Egyptians in this matter!

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  • Bill

    here is the problem …. Morsi was not voted out… he was removed forcibly by the military. in the USA this is illegal…. dont want morsi anymore? good. Guy sounds like a jerk. Vote him out.
    Doing what the military did destroys democracy and enforces a “might makes right” government.

    • lili

      I understand you,Bill, but when MB were in power they were forging votes. No way the result of the next elections would be fair.Votes in poor areas of Egypt are bought with bribes. If 1/10 of the transgressions that had happened during the elections won by MB would have happened in the US or Europe, the results would have been cancelled. Moreover, they almost ruined the culture and economy in one year and the Egyptians felt they could not wait for four more years. Look at Iran, many people are suffocating there,however the Iranian regime will never be removed by simply voting against them in the elections that are held by the Iranian government.

    • Ronnie

      What is you live in a country where the polls are rank with corruption and the media skews information about candidates, where the power of the vote becomes nothing more than an illusion?

      America wouldn’t exist is not for the power of the coup.

  • Ronnie

    Glad to read about the other side of this story.

  • lili

    Ramez Atallah wrote a very realistic article. There was a great contribution from Christians with moderate Muslims in this revolution of 30 June. The MB and Salafis are too annoyed that Christians played a political role. Ayman el Zawahry (head of Al Qaeda)made a speech threatening Coptics (the Christians of Egypt)and the next day his allies from MB and Salafi groups raised the black flags of Al Qaeda over churches in governerates in Upper Egypt.Houses of Christians were burnt in villages Minia. An evangelical church and a Pentecost church in villages of Minia were attacked. They call Christians “worshipers or adorers of the cross” and it’s their mission to persecute them. PLEASE as a church of Christ in the US make pressure on your government not to back up such terrorists against the rest of Egyptian people and army. No matter how your evaluation of the degree of democracy of the ousting of MB, democracy is no reason for making terrorists who particularly persecute Christians for their faith get power and rule Egypt.

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