The Common Good

Tahrir Square: The Many Little Revolutions

1100215-maggieLast week, I received this photo of Maggie, an Egyptian Christian friend who is a documentary filmmaker. When I asked her if I could post the photo on my blog, she sent me this email in return:

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The Arabic sign says "Ahmed (a Muslim name) and Mina (a Christian name), hand in hand." The Arabic literally says "one hand." The name of the young woman with whom I am standing is Nariman. Much to my shame, I had never talked to a woman with a niqab (total head cover) before.

Although I have been going to Tahrir regularly, last Sunday was different. And even though Tahrir is where the Egyptian revolution is taking place, I am convinced that there are personal revolutions happening there daily. A man with a beard [signifying a Muslim] stood next to me and told me, "This is the first time I have heard Christians pray." He offered me dates to eat and sang "Bless our country" with us.

One of the Muslim Brotherhood members in Tahrir said, "I can honestly say that today is the first time that I've ever met a Christian brother. We hugged and kissed and I cried because I've never felt so close to another Egyptian who wants the same things that I do." People may disagree on how representative these [relational transformations] are, but surely we agree on how wonderful and irreversible these personal revolutions are.

My friend has spoken with one member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tahrir and the man was so apologetic of what he has always called Westernized [Christian] girls in jeans. He said that they were the first to rush to his aid when he was injured and to provide him with first aid and water. He too has had a personal revolution and promised never to misjudge these young people again. It was truly heartwarming to hear.

I am grateful for the many personal revolutions that we all experience there every day we go.

In Arabic the word "Tahrir" means liberation, but it is a present continuous verb. Tahrir -- liberation -- is the work of every day and it may never be over.

Sorry for the long email ... but I just wanted to give context to the photo.

Much love, pray for Egypt.


Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, is author of Nice Girls Don't Change the World and a columnist for Sojourners magazine.

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