The Arab Left at the World Social Forum
The WSF is talking place in Tunis this year — and apparently features a strong anti-Islamist sentiment, as well as strong sentiment against the perceived backers of Islamism — Qatar and… the United States:
With strong Arab participation, the forum’s opening day witnessed slogans calling for “bread, freedom and social justice,” which echoed the demands and ambitions of the now two-year-old popular uprisings across the region.
Flags of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Palestine, Morocco and Algeria dominated the scene, waved by participating groups as they converged on 14 Janvier (January) Square, named to commemorate the Tunisian revolution, where tens of thousands gathered to start the opening march.
“The people of Tunisia are free people … No to America, No to Qatar,” was one of the chants voiced by Tunisian groups in reference to the countries believed to be allies of the ruling Islamist Nahda Party.
Pictures of slain leftist figure Shokry Belaid, who was killed — allegedly by Salafists — in February, were seen throughout the forum. Young children wore his image on their jackets, while many wore pins with his picture.
The famous, “The people want the fall of the regime” slogan was also repeatedly chanted.
Barbed wire, police guards, and armored vehicles surrounded the Ministry of Interior located only metres away from the central square where the forum was launched, forcing the marches to redirect their path.
“The interior ministry are thugs,” Tunisian and Egyptian activists — whose struggle was largely directed against police brutality — jointly chanted when passing by security forces.
Other common chants condemned the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, whose parties now dominate parliaments in Egypt and Tunisia and from which the Egyptian president hails.
“Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide,” the Egyptians chanted.
“El-Ghanoushi is a murderer,” chanted Tunisian activists, holding the head of the Nahda Party accountable for Beleid’s death.
Street cafes and restaurants were crowded with the masses who came to participate. Political side chats could be heard coming from all different corners. Arab activists were sharing experiences.
I guess the new themes in Arab leftism are anti-Brotherhood — as a tool of Western neoliberalism. If someone had told me that in 2010 I would have thought them crazy.