Sometimes, Twitter’s forced succinctness produces the most insightful commentary:
Almost fell over when a niqabi in Luxor told us she voted for Hamdeen Sabahi. “The veil is on my face, not my mind,” she said. #Egypt
— Hannah Allam (@HannahAllam) May 23, 2012
Hamdeen Sabahi is the leader of Egypt’s Dignity Party, one of the leading figures in the secular opposition running for President. He espouses a left-wing Arab nationalist worldview that is almost completely at odds with what you’d expect conservative religious Muslims to embrace. That’s the beauty of the quote above – it destroys so many preconcieved notions about Egypt and muslims in one shot that it deserves to be highlighted.
Egypt has always been the living heart of the Middle East and now is blossoming into a true democracy in its own right (putting the final nail in the coffin of the old propaganda claim that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East”). And unlike “Iraq the model” it achieved it organically, from within rather than imposed from above. Egypt’s success only underlines the profound tragedy of the Iraq War as democracy-promotion policy.