The 2011 Arab revolutions are best described as uprisings for democracy and dignity. They are democratic in the sense that they are driven by a deep-rooted hunger for political empowerment on a mass level, specifically the replacement of elite rule with popular sovereignty. They are also about dignity in that the protesters are rejecting the humiliation and degradation that has accompanied decades of authoritarian rule. The indignity brought on by massive corruption, nepotism, the absence of the rule of law and political transparency, and the rampant abuse of power. This is what has produced these protests. The increasingly educated, globalized and young segments of society – who are the driving force behind these revolts – are particularly motivated by the indignity of their political and economic context coupled with a demand to be respected by political leadership; a respect that can only be generated by democratic rule.
The Arab Revolution of 2011:
Reflections on Religion and Politics:
The democratic uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been widely celebrated but in the West they have generated concern and apprehension. Most of this concern involves the future role religion in the politics of the Arab world. In this essay, I make two broad observations. First, concern in the West about the rise of mainstream Islamist parties is partly based not on the illiberal orientation of these groups but the fact that they are politically independent actors who challenge Western geo-strategic interests in the region. Second, the role of religion in government has never been democratically negotiated in masses in the Arab world. To assume that this issue has been resolved and a broad consensus exists is to project a Western understanding of religion-state relations on the Arab-Islamic world. Doing so is both erroneous and analytically distorted. The battles over the role of religion in politics have yet to begin in