While listening to the news today, I heard the phrase, “Arab Spring” and realized I did not know what that was or could give an explanation of why “Arab Spring” is so important. I may be the last person on earth to gain this understanding, but just in case I am not the only one ignorant of the meaning of the phrase, here is some quick reference information from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Spring);
|Clockwise from top left: Protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo; Demonstrators marching through Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis; Political dissidents in Sana’a; Protesters gathering in Pearl Roundabout in Manama; Mass demonstration in Douma; Demonstrators in Bayda.|
The Arab Spring, also known as the Arab Revolution (Arabic: الثورات العربية, al-Thawrāt al-ʻArabiyyah), is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on 18 December 2010.
To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan; and minor protests have occurred in Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and Western Sahara. Clashes at the borders of Israel in May 2011, and the protests by the Arab minority in Iranian Khuzestan erupted in 2011 as well. Weapons and Tuareg fighters returning from the Libyan civil war stoked a simmering rebellion in Mali, and the consequent Malian coup d’état has been described as “fallout” from the Arab Spring in North Africa. The sectarian clashes in Lebanon were described as a spillover violence of the Syrian uprising and hence the regional Arab Spring. Most recently, in September 2012 a wave of social protests swept Palestinian Authority, demanding lower consumer prices and resignation of the Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad.
The protests have shared techniques of mostly civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies, as well as the effective use of social media to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.
Many Arab Spring demonstrations have met violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias and counter-demonstrators. These attacks have been answered with violence from protestors in some cases. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām (“the people want to bring down the regime”).
Some observers have drawn comparisons between the Arab Spring movements and the pro-democratic, anti-Communist Revolutions of 1989 (also known as the Autumn of Nations) that swept through Eastern Europe and the Communist world, in terms of their scale and significance. Others, however, have pointed out that there are several key differences between the movements, such as the desired outcomes and the organizational role of (internet) technology in the Arab revolutions.
Numerous factors have led to the protests, including issues such as dictatorship or absolute monarchy, human rights violations, government corruption (demonstrated by Wikileaks diplomatic cables), economic decline, unemployment, extreme poverty, and a number of demographic structural factors, such as a large percentage of educated but dissatisfied youth within the population. Also, some, like Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek attribute the 2009 Iranian protests as one of the reasons behind the Arab Spring. The 2010 Kyrgyzstani revolution might also have been one of the factors, which influenced the beginning of the Arab Spring. The catalysts for the revolts in all Northern African and Persian Gulf countries have been the concentration of wealth in the hands of autocrats in power for decades, insufficient transparency of its redistribution, corruption, and especially the refusal of the youth to accept the status quo. Increasing food prices and global famine rates have also been a significant factor, as they involve threats to food security worldwide and prices that approach levels of the 2007–2008 world food price crisis. Amnesty International singled out Wikileaks‘ release of US diplomatic cables as a catalyst for the revolts.
In recent decades rising living standards and literacy rates, as well as the increased availability of higher education, have resulted in an improved human development index in the affected countries. The tension between rising aspirations and a lack of government reform may have been a contributing factor in all of the protests. Many of the Internet-savvy youth of these countries have, increasingly over the years, been viewing autocrats and absolute monarchies as anachronisms. A university professor of Oman, Al-Najma Zidjaly referred to this upheaval as youthquake.
Tunisia and Egypt, the first to witness major uprisings, differ from other North African and Middle Eastern nations such as Algeria and Libya in that they lack significant oil revenue, and were thus unable to make concessions to calm the masses.
The relative success of the democratic Republic of Turkey, with its substantially free and vigorously contested but peaceful elections, fast-growing but liberal economy, secular constitution but Islamist government, created a model (the Turkish model) if not a motivation for protestors in neighbouring states.
Yes, I believe that these riots and demonstrations will show up here in America. Yes, I believe that it will be American Islam radicals doing the demonstrating. Already we’ve seen many efforts to get Sharia Law adopted into our courts, and as more and more Muslims make demands on American business and facilities, riots and demonstrations are not far behind.
It is all the more important that we elect leaders that will stand up to them and deny them their special privileges. Encourage everyone you know to vote prayerfully, being well-informed on the issues and void of the hype. 2012 elections are indeed the most important of all elections in our history. Truly, may God Save the United States of America.