Revolutionary change is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa; in some countries triggering massive outbreaks of violence; in others a more peaceful transition.
Can the fairly peaceful changes achieved in Egypt and Tunisia be achieved across the region or will Libya and Bahrain be the model? And why are there such decided differences in how leadership reacted to their peoples’ protests?
- Jim Falk: President/CEO of the World Affairs Council-Dallas Ft. Worth,
- Radwan Masmoudi, PhD: President of The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy and
- Tod Robberson: Pulitzer Prize Winner, Dallas Morning News Editorial writer
Join us as panelists talk about what makes each country different; the possibility of real democracies emerging and what led to the continuing wave of uprisings.
Tod Robberson and Jim Falk, remind us that the various countries in the Middle East and North Africa are not monolithic. Each has their own distinct cultural differences , languages and society. Egypt and Tunisia, largely homogenous countries, with clear national identities and substantially well developed civil societies, would of course react differently than the more heterogenous societies found in Yemen, Libya, Sudan , Iraq, where the varied social, cultural, tribal ethnic and religious structures of each country, their degree of economic, development, leadership and other factors greatly influence how changes of this magnitude are viewed and acted upon. Tod says, “leaders are two-faced and that is part of the problem.”
One of the questions asked is one that many Americans take issue with, Islam and democracy. The issue raised, “will present conflicts lead to more democratic societies?”
I first met Dr. Masmoudi three years ago, when I was working on a new documentary; Divergent Voices, Seeking Democracy in the Middle East. He hosted a conference on Islam and Democracy, and I had the opportunity to interview several of his speakers from, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood to American Muslims and invited him to take part. Dr. Masmoudi voices a very strong “yes”. In fact he challenges the myth that Islamic societies cannot be democracies and reminds us of Turkey, Senegal, Malaysia and Indonesia and others who in fact have made that transition.
Jim Falk reminds us that some of the conflicts have perhaps been “influenced ” by technology. In Tunisia, former US Ambassador to Tunisia, Robert Godek’s messages were “exposed” on Wiki Leaks. Al Arabiya and is showing the reality of the situation as never before. In Egypt- the Internet was actually shut down for 48 hours, causing numerous challenges to business and banking. He believes that technology, from satellite TV to Al Jazeera, is a pivotal driving force to change. The masses are seeing what actually happens in oppressive governments and reacting accordingly.
The outcome: people are excited about the possibilities they see. They are fed up with 30 some odd years of oppression and want a voice.
Stay tuned for Part Two- as we discuss that voice and its importance…
Written by Niki Nicastro McCuistion Executive Producer/ Producer