The young revolution in Middle East

By Hind Aboud Kabawat

Hind Kabawat with Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, Syria’s Grand Mufti and Rabbi Marc Gopin, Professor of World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University

L’articolo sotto riportato è di Hind Kabawat, professoressa ed avvocato di Damasco, personaggio di spicco della cultura siriana (

L’articolo è stato scritto prima degli avvenimenti libici, nel pieno dell’ondata di proteste e rivolte che ha incominciato a segnare una volontà di cambiamento nelle società arabe.

E’ importante disporre di una visuale degli avvenimenti interna al mondo arabo, originata da un’esponente di una Nazione che rappresenta, insieme all’Egitto, uno dei centri di cultura e laboratorio di idee più importanti dell’intero mondo arabo.

Quello che l’articolo mette in evidenza è il forte impatto sugli avvenimenti odierni da parte dei giovani che cercano un futuro sostenibile. Preparati ad usare gli strumenti informatici in maniera molto diversa dalla maggior parte dei coetanei occidentali, esposti al rischio di aggirare i divieti delle autorità che cercano di limitare l’accesso ai contenuti di internet, i giovani dell’area araba e medio orientale, più acculturati rispetto alle generazioni passate, costituiscono nella loro stragrande maggioranza un movimento spontaneo che può decisamente influire sullo sviluppo dell’intera area, considerata anche la giovane età media delle popolazioni di quei Paesi. (Guido Monno)

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Well, I think the verdict is now “in”: the progressive liberal reformers of the region have been found guilty of excessive timidity and restraint in pursuit of political and economic transformation in the Middle East and throughout the Arab world.

The thinkers, intellects spent endless hours at conferences, conclaves and meetings, debating with their fellow liberal-minded, reform-oriented Arab intellectuals and political activists about how they could reform the Arab world’s autocratic regimes slowly, incrementally, from within “the system,” so as not to provoke something we feared even more. Which was a radical Islamicist regime (a la Iran) that would banish the one redeeming grace of the present political status quo: a commitment to secularism in most countries in the region. But what they didn’t calculate in their now seemingly over-cautious approach was this: perhaps, without fully understanding its impact, the internet, twitter and facebook Electronics Media education have fundamentally transformed the Arab world, already.

Many in the West have a very jaundiced perverse view of much of Arab youth. For every angry young jihadist, there are literally thousands of young men and women like Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive who has become the face of the Egyptian Revolution. Like Ghonim, they are smart, savvy, well educated and as adept at the (political) uses of technology and social media as their counterparts in Munich, Montreal or Manhattan. These are the people who catalyzed their countrymen to take to the streets of Alexandria and Cairo and “take back” their country–and their destiny.  And they didn’t believe such a change had to be done slowly, incrementally–from “within the system.” And they had such a faith and commitment because they have a deep yearning to live in a society that is open, transparent, accountable and full of possibilities, just like their counterparts in Munich, Montreal and Manhattan. And one other thing: Wael Ghonim, and his “political” brothers and sisters, succeeded in just eighteen days because they are even less afraid of radical Islamicists than they are of old-fashioned autocrats like Mubarak and Ben-Ali.

I am full of a lot of “brotherhood/ sisterhood ” love and admiration for him, and the tens of thousands of young men and women of his generation in Egypt, who have demonstrated to my own son and daughter (who are ten years younger than him) that it is now finally possible to live in a Middle East where fundamental freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom from unfair prosecution and political harassment, freedom of the judiciary, etc.—are the norm, not the exception. These are freedoms that my friends in the West take for granted, but we could only dream about in the region. That sad reality may now finally be changing.

For too many years the Best and Brightest of the Arab world had to immigrate to achieve their social and economic ambitions—among them, to live a politically free, open, modern society. That sad chapter in the Arab world’s long history may now, mercifully, be coming to a close. My generation owes a great debt to the Arab youth who assembled in Tharir Square and on the streets of Tunis. While my generation was busy debating about incremental change, the kids a generation behind us showed that change could be accomplished swiftly—and peacefully.