The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Western Spring

I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States intermittently but with great interest. I am deeply pleased to see people in my country finally express some indignation (indignation that, unlike the Tea Party’s, isn’t high-jacked by racism and right-wing millionaires) over the way financial interests have dominated and perverted our political system. And challenging the insidious restrictions on the use of public space and the freedom of assembly and expression that have proliferated since 9/11 (regarding which, please, please watch this video by genius British activists).  

I’m also fascinated by the fact that the protests in the US and in Europe are so clearly inspired by the so-called Arab Spring. 

It’s not just that the protesters in the US, just like the ones in the Middle East, have been subjected to inane, condescending media coverage. Or that they have been demonized as unclean, anti-Semitic, drug-users and criminals. Or that they are being violently dispersed by police using flimsy public order and hygiene excuses. 

April 6 activist Ahmad Maher has apparently visited the Occupiers in DC and New York to learn more about them and offer some advice. But the protesters -- in their use of signs to bypass mainstream coverage, in their refusal to have leaders, in their physical occupation of public space -- have already taken a page from the Egyptian revolution. 

Who would have thought that the Arab world would re-energize the idea of democracy world-wide? 

Let's see if Western governments congratulate their own citizenry for their courageous protests to call for greater economic justice and political participation.