I was watching the Egyptian protests on Al Jazeera on the internet. My local cable company, of course, would never carry Al Jazeera, because there are a large number of veterans here, and Al Jazeera is viewed as a propaganda tool of Al Qaeda by many people in the 'military community', especially for some of the footage it showed during the Iraq War. But we can still get it, through the internet.
The screen is filled with the usual things you see at a protest. There are masses of people, milling about, like any crowd at any other protest. Flags waving, signs waving, people with bread taped to their head, etc.
I was listening to the audio, with the video hidden, while doing other stuff on my computer. Then I accidentally switched back to the video.
I couldn't tell what I was seeing.
It wasn't a crowd milling about. It wasn't people standing. It was a pattern. A regular pattern. Orderly rows, gently curving, small rectangles all pointing in roughly the same direction.
Then I realized. It was people praying. The famous "Friday Morning Prayer" of the religion of Islam.
There were of course, a large number of violent incidents later in Egypt. Later on, the military cleared out Tahir square with force. Little has apparently changed since the president left power.
A journalist was sexually assaulted, many other people were hurt. Protests are never fully peaceful; there is always that risk. Friday Prayers, in some places, are on some occasions even a sort of precursor to violent protests.
And yet. That image of the prayers...
It is quite powerful.