Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is it springtime in the Arab world?

IS the popular uprising that started in Tunisia and now raging in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya a political virus that is infecting the Arab countries? Is it an orchestrated scheme of some fundamentalist groups the likes of Muslim Brotherhood in pursuit of a more sinister global agenda? Or is it just that people are already weary of overstaying regimes as in the case of Tunisia (21 years), Egypt (30 years), Libya (42 years) and Yemen (21 years), among others.

But by the likelihood of it, this could be a trailblazer of a new paradigm of change that maybe tilting towards a more democratic way of life. Judging from photos and video footages seen on international TV, observers see that most of the protesting crowds are young who seem not to be manipulated by radical movements or extremists. In Egypt, for instance, Muslims and Christians were rallying and praying together—defying the practice of extremists of pitting them against each other. Except for Libya at press time, political powers have tried fomenting a counter revolution with violence to boot, but they never succeeded.

What seem common in TV interviews, in blogs and social networks is that young people in these countries have an overarching motivation which is basically to be able to find job, to create a family and to live with a minimum of decency. And, seemingly, there has not been a whimper of extremism or even traces of Islamic agenda. Some observers were surprised to note that there was no aggressiveness in the sense of burning effigies of Uncle Sam or the trampling of the Israeli flag. There has not been any attempt to kill or imprison the deposed heads of governments who were living in luxury and corruption with billions of dollars to their private chests; they were condemned, yes, but allowed to go.

Of course, there is no denying that the internet is one of the bigger factors in changing mentalities of the new generation in the Arab world. The young people of America, for instance, and those of Yemen compare notes and opinions which may not be necessarily identical but definitely close to each other. Besides, the Arab world is very close to Europe where people have relatives that have been assimilated into France, Germany, Italy, England and others. People discover the chasm of difference in lifestyle between them that live less than $2 a day, as in Egypt, and their relatives in European countries.

Call this revolution in the Arab world an awaking, but there are issues now that are coming out in the open—that is, at uprisings both in the streets and in social networks. One is the equality of men and women. Another is the separation of the state from religion. This is very crucial and may take a longer generational shift in worldview. What seem visible now is that young people are fed up with the conflicts of their parents, of the older generation. They just want to live in peace, build their own families and have a more open and developed nation, like the other parts of world. If such is the case, then a springtime in the Arab world may be in the offing.

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