gsu word pics - Dartmouth 2K9 1 Arab Spring Khouri 11[Rami...

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bed12d488fe0869abdb4053aadc8509f73151eb2.doc Dartmouth 2K9 1 “Arab Spring” Khouri 11 [Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star, Drop the Orientalist term ‘Arab Spring’ August 17, 2011 12:32 AM ] A fascinating aspect of the current wave of citizen revolts that is toppling, challenging or reforming regimes across the Arab world is that people around the world use different terms to describe the phenomenon. The term that seems to have gained much currency across the Western world is “the Arab Spring.” I find this totally inappropriate, and have banished it from my own writing and speaking. I urge my fellow journalists to consider doing the same. The most important reason for this is that this term is not used at all by those brave men and women who have been on the streets demonstrating and dying for seven months now. Every time I run into a Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian, Bahraini or Yemeni, I ask them how they refer to their own political actions. Their answer is an almost universal, “Revolution” (or thawra, in Arabic). And when they refer to the collective activities of Arabs across the region, they often use the plural “revolutions” (or thawrat). They also use descriptor collective-nouns such as the Arab “uprising” (intifada), the Arab “awakening” (sahwa), or the Arab renaissance (nahda), the latter mirroring the initial Arab Awakening against Ottoman and European domination in the early years of the 20th century. I personally like the term “Arab citizen revolt,” which captures the common demand among all Arab demonstrators to enjoy full citizenship rights with appropriate constitutional guarantees. The terms Arabs use to describe themselves are far stronger and more substantive than “Arab Spring.” Inherent in the term “spring,” for sure, is the idea of an awakening after the winter slumber. However, it also denotes a brief or limited transitional moment that soon gives way to the next season of summer. It mirrors Czechoslovakia’s brief “Prague Spring” liberalism of 1968, which the Russians quickly halted, and also the European revolutions of 1848 a century earlier. Tellingly, the “spring” metaphor was not applied to the revolutions that swept the Soviet Empire in the 1980s and early 1990s. When real change happens, the world tends to describe this as a revolution, not a spring – except, it seems, in the Arab world. Perhaps I exaggerate, but I am troubled by the unspoken connotations that accompany calling this phenomenon a “spring,” which downplays the severity of the challenge to existing regimes and downgrades the intensity and depth of the courage that ordinary men and women summon when they dare to take on their often brutal, well armed national security services. “Spring” is a passive term – it just happens to people – helpless people who have no power and no say in the process. The terms
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