The Moment

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Dominic Nahr / Magnum for TIME

On Feb. 2 in Cairo's Tahrir Square, protesters against President Mubarak fought with supporters of his regime

Since the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001, Arabs have sometimes been categorized by those outside their region as incomprehensible and, of course, dangerous. Yet the eruption of the Arab street, from Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan to Yemen (so far), reveals another narrative. The antigovernment protesters are expressing not extremist rage but righteous anger. The enemy targeted is not the West but authoritarianism at home. The call is not for global jihad but for freedom, justice and dignity — the very "universal values" Barack Obama cites. It's too much to hope that neat new democracies will emerge anytime soon — the Middle East is far too volatile and complex a region for anyone to bet on that. And the vicious clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Feb. 2 between those for and against Hosni Mubarak show how ugly and unpredictable any revolution — or attempt at one — can get. Still, the violence should not bury the core message of the millions who yearn for change: We aspire to what all humanity wants. We are not the Other. We are you.