Monday, 28 March 2011
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
9 March 2011
None of us really foresaw how quickly waves of change could alter the political landscape across the Middle East and North Africa – because most opinion makers were looking at the region through the lenses of security, Islamism, stability and migration. Yet, just like a good detective story, the clues of what was to happen were in front of us all the time.
Analysts and researchers observing the region – not to find answers to European and American questions but to understand where it was heading on its own terms – have long been pointing out the demographic and social trends. The growing youth population wanted change, democracy, equal opportunities and an end to corruption and nepotism. They were more interested in connecting with the rest of the world and feeling proud of their countries than joining backward Islamist utopias.
It was clear, if one really wanted to see it, that political Islam had evolved from merely wanting Sharia based isolationism into an attempt to reconcile Islamic faith and its principles with the realities of a global world. In fact, groups such as Al-Qaida and its myriad of local expressions emerged in reaction to this trend. Even then it was clear that the heyday of militant and anarchist groups was passing – though their capacity to cause harm was not. Militant Islamist groups were distant observers of the changes in the Middle East and North Africa, and could claim no victory or achievement in the toppling of rulers which they had been promising to dethrone for years. When the curtains came down, it became clear that while Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood remain political players not to be overlooked, they are a lot less grand than the bogey men they have been made out to be.
Monday, 7 March 2011
March 24: I will be giving a talk with the title "Religious Freedom in the Middle East: Why Is It The least Discussed and Improved Aspect of Human Rights? " at the Strand Campus of King's College, London in a joint event of Middle Eastern Studies and Religion in Contemporary Society seminars.