In America, the story amid all the recent tumult in the Middle East of Egypt’s people rising up to thrust Hosni Mubarak from power was broadly reported as a wonderful, feel-good story. Western romantics view the revolt as a garden-variety democratic uprising led by freedom-seekers yearning for modernity.
President Barack Obama described the scenes of jubilation many observed on television screens on February 11 this way: “We saw mothers and fathers carrying their children on their shoulders to show them what true freedom might look like. We saw a young Egyptian say, ‘For the first time in my life, I really count. My voice is heard. Even though I’m only one person, this is the way real democracy works.’ We saw protesters chant ‘Selmiyya, selmiyya’—‘We are peaceful’—again and again. We saw a military that would not fire bullets at the people they were sworn to protect. And we saw doctors and nurses rushing into the streets to care for those who were wounded, volunteers checking protesters to ensure that they were unarmed. We saw people of faith praying together and chanting—‘Muslims, Christians, We are one.’”