The Arab Spring Revolutions

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One of the most interesting and noteworthy events in contemporary times and possibly the biggest in its appeal and consequences for the 21st century is the string of revolutionary movements most commonly known as the “Arab Spring.” The term ‘Arab Spring’ – originally coined by Marc Lynch in the American political journal Foreign Policy – is fairly attention-grabbing in itself; not only is it useful to highlight the rise of ‘liberalism’ witnessed as these movements progressed, but also has historically significant connotations attached to it, which allude to the events of the Nationalist and Democratic revolutions that occurred more than a century-and-a-half ago in what is now modern-day central Europe and are known as the “Springtime of the Nations.” Certainly, the revolutions of 1848 in France, Austria, and Prussia are comparable in their objectives and achievements to the Arab Spring revolutions. Overall, these movements had many commonalities, which is remarkable considering the immense differences of time and space between them; they demanded individual liberties, representative governments, and constitutionalism. What is perhaps even more interesting is the extremely similar use of artistic expression during the Arab Spring vis- à-vis the revolutions that occurred in Europe. The liberal ideas that at first had set off these revolutions also became the ultimate weapon for their propagation. From poetry, music, and paintings to sculptures, films, photography, and dramas, various forms of art played an important role during the Arab Spring. It started in December 2010 when a Tunisian fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated himself to protest the lack of employment opportunities and his mistreatment by local... ... middle of paper ... ...course of the Arab Spring, nevertheless, remains undeniable. The comparisons between the Arab Spring and the Springtime of the Nations serve to highlight that this phenomenon was not an isolated process and it should not surprise observers if similar use of art occurs in future upheavals within any contemporary society. The success of both these movements have not been, debatably, total. While the Europeans only achieved constitutional monarchies or nation states in the long-run, the Arab movements have also been captured by conservative groups like the Enhadda Party in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and many of the achieved liberties are again under threat of government restrictions. Under these circumstances, the new cadre of young artists that rose under the influence of the Arab Spring may find, perhaps, another important role.
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