Originally published in ANS
Images of the unrest and demonstrations in Egypt, where President Mohamed Morsi is reportedly under house arrest, are deeply concerning to people worldwide.
Media reports say the military’s actions that deposed Morsi have been denounced by his supporters as a “coup,” and lauded as a “correction” by his opponents.
However, according to an email from Ramez Atallah, general director of the Bible Society of Egypt, “The real picture from the inside is radically different from what you imagine.”
Atallah said he and his wife Rebecca participated in the demonstrations demanding Morsi’s resignation.
Atallah said unlike previous demonstrations in which he participated at the same location in front of the Presidential Palace (when there was barbed wire, riot police and tear gas), these demonstrations have for the most part been unusually peaceful.
Atallah said, “The crowds around us were in a festive mood, parents, children, old people, all chanting for the fall of the Government and enthusiastically waving flags and banners. As Rebecca and I walked through the crowds we did not feel unsafe, in spite of the incredibly crowded conditions and the complete lack of any police or army presence.”
Atallah said he and his wife are proud to be Egyptians and among “so many wonderful compatriots from Christians to conservative, Muslim, veiled women.”
He added, “The concern, enthusiasm, passion and love for our country which we all shared was exhilarating and made us all the more loyal to our great nation.”
Atallah said the 17 million plus demonstrators all over the country (the largest turnout in Egypt’s history and maybe a world record) have been “remarkably peaceful and safe.” He referred a video of showing the extent of the demonstrations taken on June 30 from a helicopter overlooking Cairo.
Atallah admitted, however, that there has been violence and that militant Muslims are threatening retaliation.
He said, “Dozens have been killed and hundreds wounded and that’s what you see on your TV screens. While this is very sad and regrettable, the casualties are minimal compared to the millions out on the streets every night.”
Atallah said this movement was born when Egyptians realized that they could not depend on foreign powers to resolve their crisis.
As a result, he said, “A small group of young people took matters in their own hands and started this grass roots movement designed to force the President to resign. The fact that this is truly a movement by and for the people gives more reason for Egyptians to participate proudly in the protests.”
Regaining the spirit of the Jan 2011 revolution
Atallah said during the Jan 2011 “revolution,” the crowd’s enthusiasm “was exhilaration of the crowds was mainly because they felt united together as Egyptians regardless of their social, economic, political or religious situation or views. “
He added, “When the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties won the majority in the new parliament and had one of their own elected as President, they quickly turned it into an autocratic one-party rule and hijacked the revolution with its ‘Egypt for all’ emphasis. Their attempt to impose political Islam on Egypt is one of the major causes of the present very widespread revolt.”
Aallah asked supporters rather than worrying about them, to rejoice for “the remarkable events happening in our country.”
He added, “ Pray for the wounded and families of those killed (and ) pray that the unprecedented unity expressed between all Egyptians who reject the forceful imposition of political Islam will result in a new Egypt where people with different persuasions can live alongside one another in harmony. This is the Egypt I remember from my youth and the Egypt most Egyptians yearn for.”