Autopsy of a Revolution

A long Egyptian flag is held by the crowd around Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday Feb. 18, 2011

Edward Said once famously took the scholar Bernard Lewis to task over the history of the Arabic word for “revolution”—thawra. In an essay called “Islamic Concepts of Revolution,” Lewis had traced the term’s usage back to the classical period of the language, and presented evidence showing that it had acquired its current sense only in the 19th century. Before this, Lewis had argued, it would have been more accurately translated by the English terms “excitement,” “uprising,” or, at the most, “rebellion,” having originated in a verb form which literally meant “‘rise up’ (e.g. of a camel).”

Egypt’s Christians in the Shadow of the Muslim Brotherhood

Christian Coptic Priest Father Samuel reacts as he stands inside the burned and heavily damaged St. Mousa church in Minya, Egypt

In the nearly five years of turmoil that have followed the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, no group in Egypt has suffered more than the 15 million Coptic Christians. Both a religious and ethnic minority, the Copts are descended from the native population of Egypt who lived and ruled there from the time of the pharaohs until the Roman conquest in 31 B.C. They are the largest Christian community in the Middle East today.