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Trying to Understand the Arab Awakening

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Veronika says: 31 Jan 2012 7:18

Professor Ramadan makes very important points which have been nourished by the media as well as general discourse direction: the rigid understanding of main parties participating on the "Arab Awakening". And right, too much attention paid on differentiation of the leading parties -and resulting predictions about their future intentions- may lead not only the Western media but also the parties directly involved astray. Dedication (willingness to go ahead and change things - as represented by the uprising), faith (which makes people keep standing for what they believe for) but also the vision are necessary preconditions for the future positive development of the Arab Awakening. Common vision which unites people rather than make differences. At this point, when new governments and regimes are being formed (i.e. Egypt) it is more than important to find the moving force in form of common vision. It is not easy; the EU is looking for common vision ever since its inceptions. But, if managed, common vision makes the spirit of the development, linking attention from differences of the parties involved and brings it there where it belongs - to the project being worked on. Of course, it is important to bear in mind who you work with, but if there pluralistic and free constellations may emerge, the prejudices building communication and cooperation barriers must go aside. Without dedication, vision, respect and tolerance in form of readiness to communicate and cooperate and search for compromises representing the whole society, the regime foundations are unlikely to remain stable. The first part of a struggle is bringing down the oppression where the uniting force giving a "drive" to these efforts is fueled by the common object of dissatisfaction (oppressive practices of the regime). At the second -building stage- the "drive" to proceed rests upon finding a common vision for the future development. And this is not possible as long as the attention is directed towards the parties' differences instead of cooperation.

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About this Event

19 Jan 2012 @ 12:45

Download the audio podcast of the keynote speech here.

About the Speech:

In a speech whose scope spanned the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), via Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Professor Tariq Ramadan emphasised the heterogeneity of the developments in each country. Hesitant to use the term “Arab Spring”, Prof. Ramadan portrayed what he cautiously calls the “Arab Awakening” as a chess game rather than a domino effect.
He welcomed the progress achieved in Tunisia, and particularly commended those who succeeded in moving beyond the perceived polarisation between secularists and Islamists to a discourse based on policies and politics rather than ideology. However, Prof. Ramadan expressed concern about the situations in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, and pointed out that Tunisia may be the only success story in the immediate term.   
The role of Europe and the US in the region, both before and since the popular uprisings, came under the spotlight and Prof. Ramadan pointed to the prioritisation of economic and geostrategic interests. He suggested that the issue of whether the Arab world is ready for democracy has somewhat been overshadowed by the question “Is the West ready for the Arabs experiencing democracy?”. Of particular relevance, according to Prof. Ramadan, is the West’s attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he sees as framing all of their policies in the MENA region.
MENA countries, however, are now looking elsewhere for partners, investors and role models. Turkey is a particularly interesting example of a functioning, democratic state with a strong economy, where Islamic values are central. The Turkish government has been present and highly visible in the region over the past year. Prof. Ramadan also sees China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa as potential alternatives to Western involvement, especially from an economic perspective. Their approach is largely pragmatic, including on the Middle East conflict.
Prof. Ramadan called on the European Union to develop a vision for its future relationship with the MENA region, independent of the USA and in full recognition of the true actors and political forces emerging in each country.

About the Speaker:

Professor Ramadan is a leading Islamic thinker, active at both academic and grassroots level. He is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, President of the European Muslim Network and Director of the Centre for Islamic Legislation and Ethics in Qatar. He was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st Century.

Theme: Foreign Policy and ESDP 

Views: 4080

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