Saturday, August 5, 2006

Militants merge with mainstream

The Guardian

· Hizbullah emerges as symbol of resistance
· Anger at Israel's actions unites Shias and Sunnis

"It was organised by Artists and Writers for Change, a liberal movement which campaigns for reform in Egypt. Its members, who include Youssef Chahine Egypt's foremost film director, are precisely the type of "mainstream" people that Tony Blair was pinning his hopes on earlier this week as a bulwark against extremism. As a result of the bombing of Lebanon they are now venting their wrath against Israel and the US and waving Hizbullah flags.

Whatever qualms Arabs once had about Hizbullah they have since been dissipated by Israel's attacks, the hundreds of deaths, the sight of up to a quarter of the Lebanese population fleeing their homes, and especially the bombing of UN observers and the massacre at Qana.

Other Arab governments including Egypt and Saudi Arabia - have also toughened their stance but this cuts little ice with many of the demonstrators."Egypt! Jordan! Saudi Arabia! Nasrallah has bested you all," they chanted in the Cairo square on Thursday. Hizbullah's defiance was contrasted favourably with the somnolence of Arab regimes. "The Arab world has changed," Mr Almaeena said. "It has a new breed of young people ... They will not put up with the same old status quo. The political scene in the Arab world is changing too. In a few years there will be those who will resist even more. ""

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