Ari's Reviews > Generation Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Future of Faith

Generation Freedom by Bruce Feiler
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read on September 01, 2011 — I own a copy

I thought this was a close-to-perfect book for someone like me who wanted a brief history and analysis of what was occurring in Egypt during the early days of the Arab spring. Now more books are coming out with even more in-depth knowledge and analysis I look forward to reading those as well (such as The Struggle for Egypt by Steven Cook). I thought initially I would be bothered by the author's constant reference to the Bible but he doesn't prostelyze and how can one talk about the Middle East/Egypt without referencing the Bible? He also mentions the Koran. One particularly useful quote was when he said "This time Pharaoh is the one who was kicked out of Egypt. Moses is the one who stayed" (pg. 54). Think about that for a few seconds. What a powerful analogy, it makes perfect sense!
I think the most insightful part of this book was reading about his interview with the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Biltagy because it gave the organization a more human face. I also found the interviews with the activists such as Ayman Nour and Ethar El-Katatney, youth activists. I so admire them and wish them the very best, I sincerely hope they do not get shut out of the constitutional planning and other decisions concerning the government. I am confident they will not allow that to happen anyway.
The author then diverts from Egypt a bit to talk about his experience visiting the Middle East immediately after 9/11. At first it seems random but it connects to the sometimes tense relationship between Christians (specifically the Copts which are a Christian sect) and Muslims in Egypt. He describes Jerusalem and a powerful intermingling of the faiths. “Thousands of Muslims streamed through the flagstone streets to gather atop what they call the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, the home of the third-holiest mosque in Islam. Down below, hundreds of Jews gathered at the Western Wall, the holiest spot in Judaism. Up above, Christians mingled on the Mount of Olives in the spectacular churches that mark Jesus’ last steps. In Jerusalem, any prayer made in the direction of one of these holy sites will by geography encompass another of these sites. You can’t separate the religions” (pg. 83), that is the scenario around the world. The religions cannot and should not be separated. We coexist and the author thinks (and based on reading this one book I would agree) that the leaders of the New Egypt will figure out a way to keep the peace between religions.
If you’ve read the book you may find my favorite quote an obvious choice. It’s at the very end. “The cries of those young people in the squares across the Middle East were their own Facebook friend request to the rest of the world. And like all such requests, you don’t really have to be close to the other person to accept. You just have to have a positive, warmly inclined, friend-like relationship, where you wish them happy birthday, keep up with their musings, their status changes, their photos from the beach, and occasionally ‘like’ what they have to say or offer a witty retort. Maybe the Middle East uprisings were a Facebook Revolution after all. They were a massive generation-wide Facebook friend request from a people as enamored of freedom as we are [….]And in that way in which the Internet tries to make things easy, this request comes with two helpful options: Confirm or not now. The choice is ours” (pg. 143). To further the Facebook analogy. Reading this book was like seeing that the author (whom let’s say I was already friend with) “is now friends with Generation Freedom” and then deciding that I too should friend Generation Freedom since I have a civil relationship with them and maybe I can improve that relationship. I have sent the friendship request, what will you do?

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