Forum für Demokratie und Menschenrechte

Freiheit über alles

Lecture: The Arab spring, the progressive Arabic blogger scene and the freedom of conscience

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Thursday Mai 10 2012 7:00 pm,
University of Zürich, Rämistr. 71, Kol E 18,
Free Admission

Introduction by Dr. Elham Manea,
lecture by Kacem El-Ghazzali in English
Organized by the Forum für Demokratie und Menschenrechte Zürich

Since Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in a small Tunisian town in December 2010, nothing in the Middle East is like it was before. Revolutions have swept the vast region ranging from Morocco to Iran and have led to the ouster of seemingly deep seated dictators like Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi, only leaving international observers to ask: Who will be next?

These historical events are usually called the Arab Spring, although the events also involved the many non-Arab people in the region, Berbers, Iranians, Turks and many others. As millions of young people took to the streets, rallied by means of social networks and calling for an end to dictatorships, for liberty and democracies, many saw the era of liberal secular democracy in the Near East finally drawing near.
But more than one year after this events, these hopes seem maybe more distant ever. In Tunisia and Egypt, Islamist parties came to power in landslide victories. Bent on introducing Sharia Law to their societies, they might only increase the already unbearable discrimination of Non-Muslims, dissidents and women. Meanwhile the most repressive dictatorships of the region, in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria, remain firmly in power.

Progressives and minorities in Northern Africa and the Near East not only struggle with the various infringements on human rights in the region, but also with the deafening silence of Western media and human rights organizations. In Tunisia, two Atheists have been sentenced to 7 years of prison because they published cartoons of Mohammed, whom Muslims consider as their major prophet. Similar events happened in Saudi-Arabia, where the blogger and Human Rights activist Hamza Kashgari faces charges for apostasy, a ‘crime’ which is punished by death. At the same time, the Christians communities in Egypt and Sudan are struggling with discrimination, terror and expulsion.

Dr. Elham Manea is a Swiss-Yemenite journalist, political scientist and novelist. She studied in Kuwait and the US and is now teaching at the University of Zurich. She has written extensively on topics related to the Middle East and Islam in English, Arabic and German. She’s also the author of two novels in Arabic. Her latest book ‘Ich will nicht mehr schweigen‘
(I don’t want to be silent anymore) was published in 2010.

Kacem El Ghazzali is a atheistic blogger journalist dissident from Marocco. Because of his atheistic views and his criticism of Islam he was threatened with death and had to flee Morocco. He lives now in Switzerland as a refugee. His English and Arabic blog is read by thousands of people and counts among the most popular ones in the region. He has appeared repeatedly in international media and television and is an idol for the progressive youth in Northern Africa and the Near East


Written by Forum

Mai 5, 2012 um 11:39

Veröffentlicht in Arabische Welt

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