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Amgad Muhammad

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What would you change in the Arab Spring?

After reading many comments on various TED talks related to the Arab spring, I noticed that TED community has different perceptions regarding the uprising. I'm not discussing here whether the Arab spring is a good thing or a bad thing, I'm rather asking ..

What would you have done differently if you were a participant of the revolution? what do you think the Arab youth should have done back then and what do you think they should do NOW ?

Topics: Arab uprising

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  • Oct 10 2012: Recognize history. Revolutions for the last 60 years have almost all come out the same. Secular intelligent well educated young people revolt against an oppressive government. They have no plan for running the new government and thus a power vacuum is formed. The only organized group are religious (in the case of China communism was treated almost with religious zeal) anti-intellectuals who often pillory the academic class that helped foster the revolution. When something that vaguely appears to be democratic gets put into place the revolutionaries are dismayed by the people flocking to a group that will end up oppressing them, making them ignorant and poor.

    Those who seek great change need to recognize the need for stability and either not seek that change until they are very sure they have a means of replacing the stabilizing agents, or if it is not too late get very very busy in constructing a secular system that is acceptable to the people. It is the flaw of the academic classes to forget what people are really like.
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      Oct 11 2012: I think what you say is logical, but

      1- If we are to wait till a secular party is formed ( that is if we decided we wanted a secular party to rule) then nothing would ever get done, those who were really a threat to the old regime were either banned from the country, not allowed to be in a group, cannot leave their houses, or their party is labeled "prohibited". Mubarak was not winning elections with a 99% for nothing.

      2- There were many parties shaped after the 18 days and some were secular, but none of them could find the fund or the ability to compete with parties that existed for years. The time was very narrow and they eventually got very few seats in the parliament.

      Your analysis makes perfect sense but I don't see how we could have acted differently to prevent it, and yet have an exit from what we've been living in.
      • Oct 11 2012: Your question was about the past of the Arab Spring. I would question you, given that I fully understand your points (did all the way through it) The better question now is what are you gong to do to prevent this outcome. Knowing what has "always" happened does not mean that yo are doomed to repeat it. There have been other revolutions in the past (US and France) that led to secular democratic governments. It has only been in the last 100 years that this pattern has emerged. Learn from it. The job of the revolutionary is not over with the toppling of the government. Like the US in Iraq - it was easy to destroy what was, it is a whole different task to engage in nation building.

        I know, if you were involved in the destroying part, it was not easy at all. My point - my goad to you - is that your work has only now just begun in earnest. And those of us who cheered you on are still hoping you can do this. This means you may need to work at coalescing your secular groups and seeking alternative means of funding. You may also find yourselves having to be even more vigilant against rising theocracy.

        I do wish you luck. Keep asking for as much advice as you can get. Think for yourself! You've done an amazing and brave thing that will go down in history, congratulations! Now get to work.

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