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IN THE NEWS - What the Arab Spring, Europe Protests Have in Common

作者:Henry Ridgwell 发布日期:8-20-2011

Thousands of Egyptians protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square in April. The crowds were demanding the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. A wide view of many thousands of people holding banners.
Thousands of Egyptians protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square in April. The crowds were demanding the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak. A wide view of many thousands of people holding banners.

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Experts say political unrest in the Arab World and protests in Europe have more in common than it may seem.


The "Arab Spring" pro-democracy movement began in Tunisia. Protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to resign in January.


A short time later, protests in Egypt forced out President Hosni Mubarak, another longtime Arab leader.

Mary Kaldor was part of the opposition movement in Hungary during the Cold War. She is now a professor of global governance at the London School of Economics.

MARY KALDOR: "People assumed that somehow the Middle East was different and that was based on assumptions that somehow Islam is different -- 'It's not like us.' And that was an assumption that underpinned the war on terror, too. And I think what's so wonderful about the Arab Spring is that it's disproving that assumption. It's showing that Arabs are just as democratic as everyone else."

As the Arab Spring grew, protests also began in parts of Europe.


In Athens, thousands protested cuts in government spending and other budget reforms. Protesters occupied Syntagma Square outside Greece's Parliament. Professor Kaldor says the anger was similar to what the Arab demonstrators felt.

MARY KALDOR: "It's all about, I think, a failure of representation, a feeling that the political class is one class, 'We can't influence them, it's outrageous that they're suddenly saying that we have to pay for what the banks did.' And I think that there's a similar feeling of outrage in the Arab world. So I think there are very many similarities between what's happening in Europe and what's happening in the Arab world."

In Spain, protesters occupied the Puerta del Sol square in central Madrid, copying the earlier protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

In London, British protesters demonstrated earlier this year against their government's cost-cutting measures. Owen Tudor is international secretary for the Trades Union Congress in Britain.

OWEN TUDOR: "I think there are clear differences for what's going on in different countries. We're talking about democracies in Europe, dictatorships across much of North Africa. But many of the causes of what's happened have been very similar. It's about the economic crisis."

Israel recently had some of its largest demonstrations ever. Israelis have criticized housing costs, wages, taxes and rising prices for food and fuel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising economic reforms but has failed to satisfy social activists.

Some observers see the Arab Spring coming to a halt in Libya and Syria. But Professor Kaldor says the protests have already changed the Arab world.

MARY KALDOR: "Nineteen eighty-nine brought an end to the Cold War. I think what twenty-eleven did was to sideline the war on terror. It marginalized al-Qaida. Osama bin Laden may have been physically killed in Pakistan, but he's been politically killed by the demonstrations in the Middle East."

The protests in the Arab world might never have amounted to much without the use of social media to help organize protests.


The Pearl Roundabout traffic circle in Manama became Bahrain's own version of Tahrir Square. Protesters, mostly Shi'ite Muslims, set up camp and demanded reforms. Bahrain's minority Sunni government, with military help from neighboring nations, violently suppressed the uprising.

A crowd in Bahrain shouts anti-government statements at a funeral in April.
A crowd in Bahrain shouts anti-government statements at a funeral in April.

Today, many Bahrainis say they are afraid to use social media. Abdulnabi Alekry is chairman of the Bahrain Transparency Society. He says the government's use of social media to help identify opponents has pushed the country's Sunnis and Shi'ites farther apart.

ABDULNABI ALEKRY: "It is causing a lot of damage to the national unity and it is causing even suspicion between people who work together or live together or are in the same society or club. It is a source of concern."

Al-Jazeera television recently showed how a Facebook page helped lead officials to a twenty-year-old Shi'ite woman. Visitors to the page were asked to identify her "and let the government take care of the rest." She was reportedly arrested and tortured.

Bahrain is not the only country said to be using social media to find government opponents. Syrian security forces have also been accused of using sites like Facebook and Twitter to identify activists.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.


Contributing: Henry Ridgwell and Phillip Walter Wellman

8-20-2011 12:51:49
In fact, any time the interests of the people is the most unstable, no matter how advanced the country is, no matter it is capitalism or communism, the only way to change destiny is hard working and struggling, standing in a higher status, so as to protect themselves and the people who they want to protect.
8-20-2011 19:35:55
Here, I want to say something about Mao, the leading chairman of China until nineteen seventy-six. Although we all admit that it is he who had led China into the new world where the Chinese people can decide what a life they can enjoy, the mistakes he had made are also tremendous. The first mistake he had made is that he thinks socialism is the right form of structure for a newly-born society without stepping into the capitalism. The right road we should go is to enter the capitalism
8-20-2011 19:41:57
after we won the war against the Japanese. The second mistake is the war towards America who was bombing North Korea. He thought that America troops would battle their across North Korea and then forced the door of China towards North Korea open and then bombed China. In fact, there is no direct evidence that the United States of America would consequently attack China after he won the war against North Korea. In order to win the unnecessary war, China had spent too much on the war.
8-20-2011 19:47:4
Thousands upon thousands of young people die in the war and the Chinese people in the home had to work hard to create the essentials to provide for the people who were fighting in the front. At that time, most of the people living in China, from countryside to city, from Beijing to Xinjiang led a life dominated by hunger and malnutrition. But Mao had chose to spend the money on he war, leaving millions upon millions of people suffer from famine. Although at last, China and North Korea won
8-20-2011 19:53:2
the war, having lost too many things in the war. At last, the director of the military forces declared that they had done a wrong in the wrong time, at the wrong place and for a wrong reason. Although we had won the war, we paid a price in the people leading a poor life. We could use the money that was spent on the war to improve the lives of the people living in the territory of our own. There are many other mistakes done by Mao. He said that we should create groups of people working together
8-20-2011 19:58:21
instead of working individually, saying we had already entered into the socialism and should do everything in line with the rule of the socialism. He wanted to pass the necessary path and directly came into the socialism. And when Liu pointed out that he had done something wrong about the people working together, saying the system was a little too early, he created the Great Culture Revolution, wanting to suppress other leader who didn't have the same opinions as he,
8-20-2011 20:2:36
The biggest mistake is that he said the more people, the better. He didn't consider the side effect of more people although more people can create more labor force, working, he didn't realize that the more people there were, the more food that should be provided for them; the more people, the more polluted the environment will be. Although we might be able to create more grains and more occupations, we cannot create more space for our offspring.
8-20-2011 20:43:25
No matter who is in power,the systems of leadership are very important.No one is perfect, neither Chinese or Americans,that is why we need a democratic system to protect people's interests.So only one party to grasp the power is not a good thing.
8-21-2011 10:46:37
I'v read an article on the Internet, is the President of the United States Washington who was the cornerstone of America, not only because he is the first American President, but also he built up the perfect governing road, some people are the excellent general, outstanding military strategist, pioneering territory, but he can not make the legal system, and people blindly consider the one of the most brilliant a little side as the whole of his outstanding, and then listen to,
8-21-2011 10:46:46
even as completely god.
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