Challenges on the road to Democracy in the Middle East

SAIH Trondheim in collaboration with Amnesty arranged a debate meeting with Café Nord-Sør about the situation and the ongoing happenings in the Middle East.

Three speakers were invited to tell more about the Arabic spring and the role of religion in the geopolitics of the region:

1. Ulrika Mårtensson: She is a professor at the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, NTNU, Trondheim, and an expert on Islam. She talked about the challenges of drafting new constitutions, with special focus on the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis). She focused on two cases within the Arab Spring, Egypt and Tunisia, which have so far been successful to overthrow their previous dictators.

2. Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam: He is a Norwegian-Iranian neuroscientist and human rights advocate and an international prize winner in both fields. As a spokesman of IHR (Iran Human Rights), he talked about the dilemmatic choice between the secular dictatorship and theocratic democracy, in the region. He gave a history of contemporary Iran and the process by which the Islamists, despite their promises, took over the 1979 revolution in Iran after removing the King.

3. Souhail Mahdi: He is a Syrian-Norwegian political economy student at NTNU. He gave a brief summary of the problems faced in three current democracies of the region: Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza Strip and he finished by updating the people with the situation in Syria and the potential prospects, from a “ground”-perspective.

The three speakers presented different cases linked together with the Arab spring and the Iranian winter (referring to what eventually came out after the Iranian Spring in 1979) which is much less discussed.

After the meeting it was time for questions and answers. The questions that were asked at the end of the meeting created an interesting debate about how much religion can be trusted not to interfere with politics in the newly changed governments of the Arab spring. The debate were between the speakers and also between the audiences. A well-established debate meeting that gave new information to the situation in the Middle East. Approximately 60 people showed up during the event and as usual cake and cofee was served for the hungry and thirsty audience, Hungry for information and thirsty for learning.

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Reposted from SAIH, Trondheim.

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