While the Middle East uprisings have not revolved around religion, faith has not been absent from Arab scenes of protest in the last two months, says Shatha Almutawa. God and scripture are invoked by revolutionaries and those who oppose them for the simple reason that Arab dialects and ways of life are infused with religion.
Did it start with Tunisia earlier this year, or was it Iran that inspired the trend in 2009 or perhaps even Lebanon as far back as 2005? Was Egypt an isolated albeit epic event or is it one that truly connects the dots in a region riddled with all forms of injustice? How come 'people power' has suddenly re-awakened across the Middle East and North Africa region?
Given the shifts taking place almost on a daily basis across the whole Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region since last month, it was especially interesting to read the ACN interview reproduced by Ekklesia with HE Cardinal Antonius Naguib from the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt -- also a member of the Middle East Council of Churches.
On Friday 18 February 2011, a former defence minister sat beside me in a Sky News studio and insisted that the Bahraini government is not an oppressive regime. Hours later, Bahraini troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators.
As the world seeks to take measure of the seismic change taking place in Egypt, and as the question about what kind of political settlement will follow the demise of President Hosni Mubarak emerges, BBC Radio 4's Sunday Programme on 13 February 2011 will examine the issues with a panel of experts - including regular Ekklesia contributor Dr Harry Hagopian.