Electroshock tasers and batons in Yemen. Tear gas and rubber bullets in Bahrain. Tear gas, pepper spray, and billy clubs in Iran. Clashes between state forces and protesters continue as the Middle East reels from the recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
Whatever happens in the coming months, however far the wildfire spreads, to whatever extent democracy actually takes hold, it’s increasingly clear that the region—often referred to as the most volatile in the world—will never be the same. People are raising their voices, proclaiming their rights, calling for freedom in a new and different way. And it’s important and heartening to note how the past few weeks have displayed what president Obama referred to in his statement about Egypt on Friday as “the moral force of non-violence.” The demonstrations in Cairo were amazingly non-violent when you consider the amount of people amassed in one place. Ghandi would have been proud.
That moral force will be tested. (It will always be tested.) You shiver to read the statement by Hossein Hamadani, a commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Gaurds: “The conspirators are nothing but corpses. Any incitement will be dealt with severely.”
And you marvel at the courage of people like Jalal Bakry, a protester in the central square of Sana, Yemen, which happens to have the same name as the one in Cairo. “This is a revolution across the whole Arab world,” said Bakry to the New York Times of the police and machine guns he was facing. “If those in Tahrir Square want to kill me, that’s O.K. We will still be peaceful.”
Image: John Moore / Getty Images