That trend now appears to have been reversed.
This shifting balance between Arab and Islamic identities is a central feature of what is happening in the Middle East today, and it’s likely to generate some heated debate in the weeks and months to come.
For the first time in a generation, it is not religion, nor the adventures of a single leader, nor wars with Israel that have energized the region.
Across Egypt and the Middle East, a somewhat nostalgic notion of a common Arab identity, intersecting with a visceral sense of what amounts to a decent life, is driving protests that have bound the region in a sense of a shared destiny.
Rarely has there been a moment when the Middle East felt so interconnected, governments so unpopular and Arabs so overwhelmingly agreed on the demand for change, even as some worry about the aftermath in a place where alternatives to dictatorship have been relentlessly crushed … The Middle East is being drawn together by economic woes and a shared resentment that people have been denied dignity and respect.
True views and recent history is one more failing by the Western mainstream media. If thousands of members of secular, liberal organizations in Egypt had been regularly arrested in recent years, the names of their leaders would be household words.