There are few times when a person can point at something specific around them and say for absolute certain that they are watching History happen. It happened here in the states when Barack Obama was elected. It happened a few dozen other times in my life, the Mars Rover, the Challenger exploding, September 11, 2001, Hurricane Katrina.
These are all events that can be pointed at and say without a doubt that the world would be changed from them, or at least the country would be changed. This last week or so, a little bit more than that now, something has been happening in the world that can easily be pointed to by everybody, not just Americans, and can be said “This is History”.
Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt. These are not small nations. They are not small populations and they are not small deals. Sudan is the largest country in Africa, but it was man made, carved out of the desert sands by the British after the second world war.
Just last month, the Sudanese voted to become two separate nations. The more Islamic Sudan to the North, the Christian Sudan in the South. This may seem like not so much a big deal on the outside, but once you get past the surface, you will see something amazing. Over 98% of the population of South Sudan voted. Ninety-eight percent. And of that staggering amount of voters, 90% voted for independence from the North, a chance to form their own nation. And the Northern Sudanese government agreed to the results! So come July of this year, the cartographers will need to get out their pens and pencils and CAD programs, because there will be two nations now, where one has stood for over 50 years.
98%. We can barely get 60% of our population out to vote on major issues at any given time, here in the states. Think about that. 98% of the population (voting age and eligible to vote as a citizen) came out to vote. What would happen in America if 98% of anybody did anything?
Tunisia had some riots, they overthrew the dictator and a new leader has been put in place. It all happened so quickly that nobody really knew how to comment or what to comment or even really that it was happening until it was over.
Taking their cue from South Sudan and from Tunisia, the Egyptian People decided over a week ago that enough was enough, and they took to the streets. Protests have been ongoing, intense, and dramatic, with the world of politically interested twentysomethings glued to our computer and televisions, burning for more information.
Protests became demonstrations and America became caught in the middle. But that’s a different topic and not one that I am quite ready to speak on just yet.
Last Friday, a huge protest was planned to take place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, after Friday prayers. The government decided that it would be a good time to crack down, to remove the leaders of the opposition and to cause some intimidation. They were met with resistance.
While the Muslim members of the protests were at prayer within their Mosques, the outsides were guarded by a human chain, a human barricade of Coptic Christians, who put themselves in between the praying Muslims and the Police of the Government.
They used their bodies as shields to protect people of another faith.
And they did so again this week, while Prayers were being said in Tahrir Square, the Christian protesters put themselves in harms way so that their Muslim compatriots could pray in peace and in safety.
There are moments in time that you can point to and say, “The world changed at this time”. And I truthfully, honestly believe that this is one of those times. Nobody knows for certain what the outcome will be in Egypt. Nobody knows for certain how things will go for Tunisia and for Southern Sudan.
But I, for one, do know that I will never forget the sight, the image burned in my mind and in my heart, of Christians protecting Muslims at prayer. Of a people who for so long in my mind have simply been ‘Egyptians’ and/or ‘Arabs’ becoming something not quite monolithic and more nuanced.
I have plenty of thoughts on the political and religious ramifications and difficulties that this has brought up for me and my mind. But they are not organized, they are not quite ready for writing down just yet, as I am still uncertain exactly how or what to say.
History has been made these last two weeks. And what will happen next, nobody really knows for certain. But it will be something rather fascinating to watch.
image was found via twitter and passed around many places on the internet. I do not know the original photographer, but I can say ‘thank you’, you have helped make what could have been a dark dark story, that much lighter for many of us in the world.