How Middle Eastern Activists Perceive Popular Protest
This policy paper provides unique perspectives from Middle Eastern activists who are part of popular protests across the region. The recommendations are based on their perspectives and addressed to the EU at large European Commission, the Dutch government and Non-Governmental Organisations in order for them to best support the democratic transitions in the region.
These perspectives were the subject of lively and inspiring debates at a seminar at the University in Amsterdam on April 18th, 2011 and advocacy meetings on April 19th and 20th, 2011 with Dutch and European policy makers in the Hague and Brussels respectively. At the seminar activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Morocco and Syria discussed with Dutch academics and practitioners from and outside the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia. The idea for organising this seminar surfaced during internal discussions on the Arab Spring within the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia. Ever since the eruption of popular protests, we have been witnessing an avalanche of analyses from ‘experts’ in the Western media on the roots of revolutions in the region. However, largely lacking were the perspectives of people who were the key drivers of these protests. For this reason we organised the seminar and advocacy meetings, and we produced this policy paper.
The paper does not and indeed cannot present the perspectives of all activists involved in the popular protests. But it certainly presents the key conclusions and recommendations of the seminar and subsequent advocacy meetings, and therefore provides a platform for these activists to share their stories, perspectives and recommendations with policy makers, academics and activists in the Netherlands and the European Union. In this way we aim to make a modest contribution to the global debate on the Arab Spring and hope to assist activists, academics and policy makers in the region and beyond to better comprehend the complexity of transformative changes that re-configure the political landscape of the Middle East.
Accordingly, I will pay attention to the conceptualization debate, i.e. how do we make sense of Arab Spring. The second part will address the role of new social media in this spring. Thereafter, I will reflect on the collapse and/or sustenance of several ‘fear factors’, before going into the relation between economic development and democratisation. Finally the conclusions and recommendation of the activists will be presented.
This is Policy Paper 3 of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia by Kawa Hassan