“Comment: The ideals of the Arab Spring remain out of reach for many. But the quest for freedom, though long and uneven, is inevitable and unstoppable, writes Mohamed ElBaradei.”
Editor’s note: This article is part of our special series on the Arab Spring 10th anniversary. The rest of the series can be accessed on this regularly updated portal.
The Arab Spring that erupted a decade ago was a quest for human dignity whose protagonists sought to overcome decades of repression, poverty, and inequality. …
“Comment: Social media played an important role in the Arab uprisings, but over the last decade, authoritarian regimes have embraced this technology for their repressive agendas, writes Marc Owen Jones.”
A decade ago, online videos and images of the early martyrs of the Arab revolutions humanised them, evoking empathy while galvanising solidarity at the weight of injustice faced by millions across the region.
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook provided both platforms for organisation as well as spaces for activists to forge new networks. The widely shared images from the Egyptian revolution even showed some protesters holding up banners with Facebook and Twitter on them, such was their perceived importance.
With the exception of Tunisia, the past 10 years have all but shattered any illusion of a technology-facilitated overthrow of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. The debate about technological utopianism, or liberation technology, verus technological utopianism, have become less fevered. …
“Comment: Europe’s ‘externalisation’ policies have essentially pushed its borders deep into Africa, write Tara Ansari Esfahani and Mohammed Harun Arsalai.”
As the death toll from shipwrecks in the Mediterranean continues climbing, in the Horn of Africa Ethopia’s Tigray region is unraveling into deadly violence between the central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
“Comment: Calls for castration and hanging as punishment for rape have been growing, but such draconian measures fail to tackle the root cause of gender-based violence, writes Zahra Khozema.”
When I turned around to see what was pressing from behind in the food queue at a wedding in Karachi three years ago, I heard, “looks tasty”. Flustered and too scared to start a scene with a man twice my size, I decided to drink only Pepsi for dinner.
I thought a lot about what I wanted to happen to that man as payback, and none of it was pretty. So let me be the first to assert that the fury Pakistani women feel in the current climate is valid. …
“Comment: I’m proud to be voting for a president who will restore the rights of women and BIPOC, and respect the science surrounding Covid-19 and climate change, writes Sarafina Nance.”
On 5 November 2016, the day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I stayed home from work.
I was overwhelmed with a paralysing sense of fear; one that manifested as a constant stream of tears and inability to sleep. I reached out to my friends, many of whom are women, LGBTQ+, and members of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities.
“Comment: A year after mass protests reignited the Arab region, Rami Khouri explores how the struggle against corruption and poverty became the rallying call for a new generation.”
Much has changed and nothing has changed in Iraq and Lebanon, as both countries this month mark one year of non-stop mass protests by citizens against their ruling government establishments.
The significant changes that have occurred in society, together with the persistence of the corrupted and depleted governance systems tell important, larger, tales of this historic moment of Arab political turbulence.
Iraq and Lebanon’s overarching message is that steadily pauperised and desperate Arab citizens who peacefully seek a total overhaul of their political systems will continue to face an increasingly militarised ruling elite that offers minor reform gestures without ceding any real power.
As these and other Arab lands settle into a long stalemate, society, economy, and statehood all steadily deteriorate and could collapse. Officials with power do not seem to care, and citizens seeking to evict the powerholders lack the means to do so.
Other protests in Algeria, Sudan, and Jordan echo the same dynamics of the Iraqi and Lebanese uprisings, anchored in common and deep grievances that plague a majority of Arab citizenries in almost all dimensions — economic, political, social, and environmental. These erupted in the last 18 months, but they perpetuate a full decade of protests since the 2010–11 Tunisia and Egypt revolutions.
Iraq and Lebanon are especially noteworthy because their governance systems are defined by sharply delineated sectarian identities and political organisations. …
“Comment: Covid-19 was an opportunity for UN multilateralism to shine. Instead it reveled the disturbing fragility of the UN’s founding principle, writes Shashi Tharoor.”
On 24 October, the United Nations will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding in 1945, when the historic UN Charter entered into force. Sadly, the organisation will do so at a time when multilateralism has never seemed more in peril.
The Covid-19 pandemic has inaugurated a new era of deglobalisation. Evidence of isolationism and protectionism is mounting, with many governments loudly emphasising sovereignty, nationalism, and self-reliance, and questioning treaties and trade agreements. …
“Comment: The ‘Overseas Operations Bill’ denies justice to victims of torture perpetrated by British armed forces, and contravenes international law, writes Aniqah Choudhri.”
During the British occupation of Afghanistan, a woman named Bebe Hazrat was woken up in the middle of the night. British special forces climbed over the walls and rounded up her family, forcing them outside. Her family were unarmed. The British soldiers told her sons to put their hands in the air. After they did, they open fire. Her sons were shot in front of her.
Speaking to BBC Panorama she describes the moment as one she’ll never forget, “They had shot the boys in the head. They were placed next to each other and their brains had come out.” …
“Comment: Covid-19 has revealed the vulnerability, resilience and generosity of the UK’s disproportionately impacted Muslim community, writes Harris Iqbal.”
Friday marks Eid Al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, where 1.8 billion Muslims around the world will commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham.
UK Muslims were already expecting a bittersweet occasion due to the ongoing pandemic, but on Thursday night, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that members of separate households would be banned from meeting each other indoors in Manchester, parts of Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire — almost all places with significant Muslim communities.
British Muslim communities have already been particularly impacted by the virus, both in its health effects, and in the social divisions inflamed by lockdown measures. In fact, Covid-19 is two to three times more likely to be fatal for black and minority ethnic groups, and government advisors have expressed particular concerns around Muslim communities since the very beginning of the pandemic. …
“Comment: Not content will an already severely restricted public sphere, Sisi has moved to bring this 1,000-year-old Egyptian centre of learning and scholarship under his control, writes Sam Hamad.”
One of the most notable differences between an authoritarian and totalitarian regime is that while the first seeks merely to nullify its enemies, the second seeks to nullify everything that functions autonomously of it — even if the thing in question poses very little immediate risk to the stability of the regime.
This is precisely how we must look at the recent move by Egyptian tyrant Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to, for the first time in over 1,000 years of essential autonomy from direct state rule, bring Al-Azhar under control of the regime. …