“The Arab Spring is a lie”

By on April 17, 2013
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On December 10, 2010, the Arab Spring Protest movement began in the Middle Eastern country of Tunisia. Protest movements spilled over to other countries in the Middle East. Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and other countries attempted to rewrite their future similar to that of Tunisia’s. However, many of the protest movements were crushed in nations with leaders who rule with an iron fist. Others, the Western world never even heard about because of strong efforts by their governments. The results do not reflect true change the embracing of democracy.

In Tunisia, President Ben Ali eventually stepped down from office in January of 2011, about a month into protests. Elections in October brought to power the supposedly moderate Islamic party Ennahda. A new government of the President Hosni Mubarak left office in February of 2011, and free elections were held in Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammad Morsi emerged victorious, and Libyan rebel forces assassinated Muammar al-Gaddafi in October of 2011. A new government is still a work in progress as the people in power want to model their government after that of Spain. Bashar al-Assad of Syria, however, is still massacring his own citizens by the hundreds every week.

The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia have been perceived as successful democratic movements in American news outlets because the western media has a habit of portraying events in the Middle East with a strong bias. The pro-democracy movements in the Middle East were hailed as struggles for freedom and received full coverage for the most part. Now that the rulers of Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia have been replaced, Western media claims that these three Arab Spring Revolutions were successful when the only difference is the person or group in power.

Nonetheless, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt are no more democratic now than they were in 2010 before the revolutions began. Tunisia’ Ennahada party is curtailing the rights of women and making Tunisia an increasingly Islamic country, offsetting any democratic reform the people were hoping for. Egypt’s Morsi represents the conservative Muslim political party. The population still does not have the freedoms and rights that they protested for. Libya, which also has a new government is struggling with human rights violations and attacks on the governments. However, it seems to be the country that will emerge the closest to a true democracy. The crisis in Syria is an ongoing struggle, and no one knows who will be in power after as-Assad. Judging by the trend of its neighbors, it seems that Syria too will probably eschew true democracy.

An American watching the news might believe that since Morsi, Gaddafi, and Ben Ali are gone, these countries now have democratic governments. They would be mistaken, however, since the progress made has been greatly exaggerated by Western media outlets. I would go as far as to say that the success “Arab Spring” is a lie. At the very least, the idea is a misconception: Bringing down a ruthless dictator does not mean a country automatically becomes a democracy. The government’s implementation and enacting of laws determines if the new regime is actually a democratic one.

Western media must realize the misconceptions they are promoting and learn to report the truth of the occurrences in the Middle East. American viewers may be thrilled with the “outcomes” of the revolutions in the Middle East, but the truth is that many Middle Eastern protesters believe that their revolutions are not yet over. The rights and freedoms they have been fighting for still have not been implemented.

Natasha Mehra
Staff Writer
nmelva16@uab.edu

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