the elephant in tahrir square

12 02 2011

There have been tanks in Tahrir Square, and horses and even camels… and a great big elephant that no-one talks about.

What has happened in Egypt has been momentous, and will continue to be remembered as a remarkable event. It brings back memories of the toppling of Eastern European communism in 1989 and Apartheid in South Africa in 1991 – largely peaceful, grass-roots revolution, which the powerful cannot simply ignore or suppress.

Other things can be ignored though. There were martyrs, of course. Could a largely peaceful revolution have happened without the initial violence and the torture of prisoners? We will never know. And then there is prayer. Prayer is notoriously difficult to report. I cannot imagine John Simpson talking about the power of prayer. And in a Muslim country with a small and largely oppressed Christian population, the prayers of whom?

This picture above (from BBC News) stood out for me. It highlights everything of interest, yet totally ignores the several hundred people praying. They are really quite obvious. Bloggers should never be considered more important than pray-ers.

This reminded me of another picture (below) that dropped onto my Facebook wall the other day, showing Christians protecting Muslims at prayer in the Square.

prayers, protests & protection

Prayer is the elephant in Tahrir Square and the elephant in the news room, that which cannot be reported because no-one understands it or wants to credit prayer with achieving anything. In such a deeply religious country as Egypt, with some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, this is an interesting elephant.

It’s partly our ‘secular’ news culture that avoids talk of things religious unless they are divisive, frivolous, controversial or gay (or all of them). And I think it’s partly our attitude to seeing Muslims at prayer. Christians at prayer in churches seems quaint, a little dull, irrelevant; Muslims at prayer en mass in the outside, to the frightened-of-Muslims public, looks slightly sinister, in their straight lines, all moving together; our paradigm of Muslims in the news is of shouting, fighting, and being angry. This breaks that stereotype.

Maybe that’s why it was ignored.

We pray now for a peaceful transition of power.




5 responses

12 02 2011
Enid R.

Fine words, great thoughts. Thank you. We pray on. To God’s glory.

12 02 2011

The first pic does look abit like the end of the twin towers!

13 02 2011
Tweets that mention the elephant in tahrir square « the blog of kevin --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew Brims, Kevin Lewis. Kevin Lewis said: New blog post: Just what is the elephant in Tahrir Square? #egypt […]

14 02 2011
martin h

Maybe we Christians should pray in groups in public more often?

28 02 2011
Best of February 2011 | Brimming Over

[…] World Scares Me. The New Craftsmanship and Make big Plans by Seth Godin. Kevin the Vicar on The Elephant in Tahrir Square. This 3 minute video from Alan […]

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