What were the biggest surprises for you with respect to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia?
Al-Azm: The absolute remoteness from the methods used in earlier protest movements. Formerly, banners would have been emblazoned with slogans like "Death to America, Death to Israel" or "The enemies of the people don't deserve freedom". Such sentiments suddenly vanished. And the break with them did not take place gradually, but rather abruptly. In earlier protest movements there was always a climate of crisis.
Now things were completely different. We are now experiencing a protest movement in the Arab world that toppled a president while music was played, people danced, recited poetry and released balloons into the air. This resembles what we are familiar with from Europe or the USA. The days of the earlier protest movements are not so long past. We need only think of the protests against the Danish Mohammed caricatures or the "Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie, or the demonstrations for Palestine.
We are now witnessing a new sprit and a new practice. This attests to a high level of maturity. Even the religious statements we heard were of an individual nature. Anyone who wanted to pray did so. Anyone who did not want to pray didn't have to. Anyone who wanted to stand under the cross went ahead and did it.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Sadiq Jalal al-Azm: A New Spirit of Revolution
The closing question and Jalal al_Asm's response,