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The Arab Spring: between a frozen winter, blistering summer and withering fall

2012-02-06

21 December 2011
A meeting around the Arab Spring and its role and impact on Palestinian affairs was held, led by Mr. Abdul Rahman Abu Arafeh, and included participants from a wide array of political backgrounds as well as journalists and researchers. The meeting followed on the first symposium around the Arab Spring held in February 2011. The phenomenon of popular uprisings across the Arab world, also known as the “Arab Spring”, has brought about phenomenal changes, especially in Egypt and Tunisia, where Islamists have won elections. The meeting discussed the success of Islamic parties and the question of democracy, with guest speaker Dr. Aziz Dweik, who provided viewpoints of Palestinian Islamists and democratic governance, with comparative analysis of the Tunisian and Egyptian experiences.


Mr. Nabil Amr shed light on the Egyptian experience, not as a former ambassador to Egypt, but as someone with familiarity with Egypt for a much longer period of time, he described the events in Egypt as “an explosion” and not a revolution, because the latter includes leadership, planning, leading, which leads to a peak in activity. Mr. Amr also mentioned the issues leading up to the revolution relating to election corruption and nepotism. A key reason behind the revolution was the lack of accountability regarding bringing those responsible for the deaths and human rights violations against Egyptian citizens to justice. Mr. Amr also expressed his views on the results of Legislative council elections in Egypt are a result of past failure of nationalism, and the coming together of political and religious Islamists, where Islam is now the main choice for the majority of the populace. He also pointed out that there are great social and economic challenges facing Egypt, which will prove an exceptional challenge to political Islam, which has to provide answers and solutions, as well as committing to previous regional and international commitments. Mr. Amr also pointed out the differences regarding the Turkish and Egyptian models of political Islam, and concluded difficult tests are set to face political Islam.
Mr. Qaid Abdel-Karim “Abu Leila”, addressed in his speech on the three critical components, far from exaggeration or lacking context, and which have an influence on the success of political Islam, firstly, that political Islam received a partial majority and not a comprehensive majority, which disables it from forming a government on their own, secondly, the Islamic movement works alongside the revolutionary community in the fields of public respect for the civil state, democracy, the peaceful transition of power, upholding human rights and the rule of law, thirdly, the majority in which political Islam received was not a majority based on past performance but rather a majority placing the test on political Islam, and its ability to find solutions to the issues facing their respective countries.
In the final stage of the symposium, President of the Legislative Council Dr. Aziz Dweik, asserted that Islam has not been given an opportunity to show what it is capable of, using a basis of analysis standing on a historical perspective and not one that is highlighted according to political doctrines centering on the now. In his view his theory is based on history but with a look to the future, and after reviewing a number of Islamic thinkers such as Rashid Ghannouchi, Hasan Al-Banna, his conclusion was the political Islam is not aimed at exclusion of the other, but rather is geared towards supporting the civil state, democracy and devolution of power and the preservation of freedoms.
The symposium concluded with an in-depth discussion including all participants directing questions at the panel and also providing their own analysis. Abdel-Rahman Abu Arafeh thanked the participants for their discussion and noted that a full paper on the discussion will be available on the website to allow for further comments and discussions.


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