A hurricane of change is blowing through the Arab world. Even now, many Arab regimes are still in denial, says Nadim Shehadi. But this volatile situation also challenges the West to grasp a new political reality.
Despite the pernicious narratives of past decades, and despite dismissive Western attitudes towards the Middle East and North Africa, Arabs are showing that they can practise democracy after all, says Harry Hagopian. This moment in history is not just a revolt, it is a struggle for the Arab soul.
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?
President Mubarak has said he will not seek re-election when the country goes to the polls in September 2011. That's not soon enough for the anti-government protesters who have given him until today - Friday 4 February - to stand down.
In the midst of popular uprisings against oppression across the Middle East, an important identity question faces hard-pressed Christian minorities, says Harry Hagopian. Can these Christian communities play their role as fully-fledged Arab citizens rather than solely as ‘Arab Christians’.
A leading commentator on Middle East issues has said that faith and civic leaders in the region have a responsibility to challenge "regimes that muzzle and polarise their peoples" along with the "religious totalitarianism" that fuels violence, discrimination and hatred towards minorities.