Western analysts and media outlets are deciding whether Egypt 's uprising is a secular demand for democracy, which they would support, or a religious revolution that they believe should be feared and stopped. However, the uprising is complex and if the US is to support the Egyptian people, as it promised, policymakers must first increase their understanding of Egyptian aspirations.
The protests are fueled by the Egyptians greater sense of self worth and it is based on the people's belief that they should no longer have to endure the daily humiliation of economic and political stagnation. The protesters come from a wide cross section of Egyptian society and they are all demanding justice, calling for Muslim-Christian solidarity.
Religiosity is also playing a role in the development and continuance of the demonstrations, just as other uprisings throughout history. Egyptians say that moving toward greater democracy would help Muslims progress, and that attachment to spiritual and moral values would similarly lead to a brighter future. Surveys show that Egyptians prefer democracy over all other forms of government. They also say that religion plays a positive role in politics.
The majority of Egyptians wants democracy and sees no contradiction between the change they seek and the timeless values to which they adhere. More than 90 percent of Egyptians say they would guarantee freedom of the press if it were up to them to write a constitution for a new country. Moreover, most Egyptians say they favor nothing more than an advisory role for religious leaders in the crafting of legislation. Egyptians choose democracy informed by sacred values, not theocracy with a democratic veneer.
Similarly, from abolitionists to the civil rights movement, American leaders have been inspired by their faith as they pursue justice. Nowadays in the US, many of those who are calling for environmental preservation, an end to torture and eradicating global poverty, are faith leaders as they draw on their ethical traditions and beliefs for the common good.
The US is a natural partner to the Egyptian people in their struggle to attain a brighter future because of America 's unique history and struggle for social justice. Surveys have revealed that the majority of Americans and Egyptians believe it is a benefit, not a threat, for Muslims and the West to interact.
Although they seek the rule of law, most Egyptians do not support the rule of clerics. US policy makers should not make the mistake of alienating the Egyptian movement by failing to understand its complexities.