The topics of human rights and civil society provoke a lively debate on both sides of the Mediterranean. It is important to underline the fact that in the political arena these two issues are particularly emotive. This publication examines this synergy, looking at the role of external participants (in this case, Europeans) in promoting democratic values, and looking at the reception that has been given to this “interference” by official bodies of the societies in question. The debates and contradictions concerning the issue of human rights and the use to which it has been put – neutral or self-interested – explain the feelings of reticence and suspicion.
It is also necessary to examine this question with reference to the religious dimension, which “invades” the public sphere and imposes itself as an essential factor in understanding what is at stake. External interference can also be positive in helping to motivate activists to establish platforms for dialogue. This experiment, which is in a crucial phase, highlights the impressive role of civil societies in the desired and expected reforms of the countries of the South.
This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.