Oslo Scholars Program

enabling tomorrow's human rights leaders, today

From the 2011 OFF

Relevant is an understatement for the afternoon panel discussion. The audience pushed to the front of the room, and also crowded the virtual world of Twitter to ask questions to the panel of prestigious dissidents, bloggers, and journalists who sit on state. All of these men and women, from across the Middle East and North Africa, prove Amir Ahmad Nasr’s words that “The Arab World is not a monolith.” Each, while discussing this united “Arab Spring” gives a vivid and emotion-filled face to the linked but diverse, unique struggles we now see sweeping across the Middle East.

As a college student, I’m used to the sunrise, to an all-nighter of work which, at 5am, leads me to push through just a little longer with the hope of seeing the sunrise. After the first rays hit, and I can feel the warmth of the day, the adrenaline flows, pushing the idea of sleep to the backburner. Other times, though, sunrise is the goal. The colors fade and the excitement ends, and I forget about the beauty of what I just saw.

Listening to the panelists here gathered, I wonder if the West, if the media is like that student who stayed up all night, sometimes fading, waiting for the dawn, for that sunrise which will burst with color, with headlines, with dramatic change. The Arab World is truly, according to all, seeing a “new dawn,” but all have also lamented that this sunrise, this dawn is not the end of their road.

Lina Ben Mhenni noted, with obvious sadness in her voice, that: “They think that we have succeeded in our revolutions. This is not true.” She argued that the transitional government has been signing agreements with many international actors, yet the people of Tunisia are not happy, not satisfied with this transitional authority. The change has not come to completion. Journalists and bloggers still face kidnap and torture by the police and government, the government that has come into power in the wake of this “Arab Spring.”

So, will the West just be staying for sunrise? Will the media remove the cameras once the lights fade to the less interesting yet crucial struggle that comes in the aftermath of the shock. Repeatedly, the Scholars have heard that reform, whether political, ideological, or societal, takes time. Can the Western world keep maintain its focus as headlines prove more complex that many hoped? Can we continue to pay attention when reality becomes less glossy? As the “Dawn of the New Arab World” shows, fatigue—international fatigue—can set in after waiting until dawn, but more than ever before the Arab community needs the ideological, media, and tangible support of the rest of the world in order to keep their revolutions awake, to keep their voices loud, and to witness the brightness of a full day, a day that does not end at dawn.

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This entry was posted on April 5, 2012 by in Arab Spring, OFF 2011 and tagged , , , .

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