In the Arena

Egypt Awakes

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The New York Times has one telling nugget from today’s street protests in Egypt:

In a stunning turn of events, one pitched battle in that city ended with protesters and police shaking hands and sharing water bottles on the same street corner where minutes before they were exchanging hails of stones and tear-gas canisters were arcing through the sky. Thousands stood on the six-lane coastal road then sank to their knees and prayed.

This is different from the Green Movement in Iran. There, the religious police–the basij–were happy to split the skulls of those they considered heretics. They were on a mission from God. In Egypt, the police are on a mission from Mubarak. They may well have more sympathy for their fellow citizens than they do for a tyrannical leader who seems a figment of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s imagination. In any case, I’m not sure that the Obama Administration’s continuing support for the Egyptian regime is exactly the best signal right now; at the very least, a statement of protest over the house arrest of Mohammed el Baradei would seem to be in order.