Religious state and non-state authorities have entered into a discussion about the legitimacy of political resistance, says Malika Zeghal. Al-Azhar, through the presence of some of its members in Tahrir Square, has shown its relevance to the recent political mobilization and has asserted its role in shaping a narrative of hope against tyranny.
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.
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.