This guest contribution comes from Tarek Ragheb, an Egyptian-American, senior U.S. aerospace advisor, former U.S. military officer, diplomat and investor in Egypt, who attended today’s rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
If there’s a clash of civilization, Egypt is certainly witnessing one now.
Clearly tonight’s mass rally in Tahrir square is pitting a modern, democratic, secular society in contrast with political Islam that is seen as repressive, anti-democratic and enigmatically supported by the U.S. in a slow-motion political Islamization of Egypt.
Brimming with the very mosaic that makes up Egypt, the square is festive and filled with ordinary people during the rally — the pious, the well off, the artists, actors, engineers and finally the idealistic youth. Young and old, veiled woman and wealthy women wearing the latest fashions — all are together in the square tonight.
Aside from the rank and file of ordinary people, the rally is also star-studded with likes of Hamdeen Sabahy, the third runner up in the presidential elections and a favorite among the youth, as well as the noble prize winner Mohamed ElBaradie.
The crowd is clearly filled with the real pro-democracy demonstrators. Christian crosses displayed in the air mix with open Qurans and chants calling for freedom and longing for a democracy that is deeper than the simple shallowness of a ballot box.When asked why she’s here, Abeer, a Muslim office administrator, voiced concern that the country is divided and that with the Muslim Brotherhood monopolizing power, her freedom as a citizen and especially as a woman is in danger.
The underlying tone of the protest is clearly anti Muslim Brotherhood. Chanting Christians and Muslims are united. The crowd alternates between chants, even to the point of demanding President Mohammed Morsi step down and calling for the the fall of the regime.
Dalia Khalil, a school teacher, is elated to see so many of her students at the protest. What’s most puzzling to the likes of Dalia is why the main Western press coverage is ever present when the Islamists are in thestreet yet are hardly to be seen when the secular movement takes up the protest banner. Engie, one of her former students, wonders why the United States supports those who don’t share their most basic values of freedom and democracy, sharply taking aim at the coziness of the U.S. with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The square tonight is filled to the brim with real pro-democracy demonstrators who are sending a clear signal that Egypt’s secular democratic movement has deep grass root support.
It appears that the pro-democracy movement is on a collision course with political Islam. There is also resentment of the United States as being clearly on the wrong side in its attempt to be on the “on the right side of history.”