Recently, a violent string of protests across the middle east against a us-made film, which was held to denigrate the prophet Mohamed, culminated in a deadly arson attack that killed the US ambassador to Libya. Once again, some commentators have framed these events as a clash of cultures and a pivotal moment in Western and Islamic relations. However, the evidence suggests that the clash of civilizations thesis is exaggerated.
So in relation to the Arab Spring, it is more helpful to see it as a clash between people and governments within the Arab world, caused in large part by incompetent governance and an inability to listen to what the people want. Contrary to the clash argument, the Arab Spring is not a clash between Islamic radicalism and the west. Looking closely at the region reveals that each upheaval has Its specific characteristics, each country its own history and ethnic mix. In Bahrain, for example, the Arab Spring has manifested itself in an explosion of long-held tensions between Sunnis and Shih Muslims.
There Is some interesting polling that popular concerns about democracy In Bahrain have decreased since the start of the troubles, while encores about Iran have increased. In Egypt, people simply wanted a change Embark was self-evidently time-expired and the longer the military try to hold on to power (prompted in part by their large stake in the economy), the lower their popular support becomes. Similar, although more extreme, concerns apply In Libya, exacerbated by the tribal nature of Libyan society (a really big determinant).
Its also instructive to note what is happening in Tunisia, which seems to be providing a very Arab/North African take on democracy but which seems to be working nonetheless. So In essence, the Arab Spring Is not really clash of civilizations territory at all. The role of Islam in the Arab Spring Jane Simonton, Chatham Houses middle east expert, comments in relation to Tunisia and Egypt that The vague, catch-all term Salamis belies the diversity of movements that seek to draw inspiration, values and legitimacy from Islam. There are enormous differences In thinking both between different Salamis groups, and wealth them.
Crucially, this diversity Is likely to Increase as a result of the new-found political opening in the Arab world. Salamis movements OFF uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia succeeded precisely because they avoided the divisions of ideology, class and, in Egypt, religion that have traditionally fractured and weakened opposition movements in the Arab world. Certainly Salamis movements were more successful than any other parties in the recent parliamentary elections in Egypt and Tunisia, prompting some observers to accuse them of stealing the revolutions.
The protests that drove political changes in 2011 hoisted slogans with universal appeal calling for freedom, dignity, social Justice more than they referred specifically Islamic slogans. They were not Salamis, anti-legalist or non- Salamis protests Psalmists participated alongside secularists, liberals and leftists and there were striking images of Muslims and Christians guarding each others prayers in Their Square. Neither Salamis movements nor other existing political parties can claim credit for these youth-led, spontaneously swelling street movements.
Thus, what we are seeing is far from the rise of a monolithic civilizations identity, but rather an intra-civilizations splintering over political and economic ideas. Conclusion clash within the Arab world The Arab Spring is not so much to be seen as a clash of civilizations but rather a power struggle motivated by pollarded sectarian differences within Arab countries. TTY McCormick in the Huffing Post argues It is clear that a clash within civilizations helps to explain the Arab Spring more than a clash between them.
William Misacts writing in the Journal, Foreign Affair, also questions the clash of civilizations thesis On 9/1 1, the global Jihads movement burst into the worlds consciousness, but a decade later, thanks in part to the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is in crisis. With Western-backed dictators falling, al Qaeda might seem closer than ever to its goal of building Islamic states. But the revolutions have empowered the groups chief rivals instead Salamis parliamentarians, who are willing to use ballots, not bombs.
Activities (1) Follow on discussion To what extent is does the Arab Spring constitute a clash of civilizations Given that this topic is in many ways Just a footnote to the wider debate over the clash of civilizations thesis, it might be worth asking groups to draw up precise lists of points both for and against this action. (2) Arab Spring mint-presentations allocate members of the class to one of the Arab Spring countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria etc. ) and ask them to do a one-slide presentation outlining key events etc.