Political unrest in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia is not unlike a modern version of the American Revolution, according to North Carolina State University’s Dr. Akram Khater. Khater’s expertise in Middle Eastern history can provide perspective to help us better understand what is taking place in the region. Khater is director of NC State’s Middle East Studies Program and an associate professor of history. He can be reached at 919/513-2218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Over the past month, popular protests have rocked the Middle East and North Africa,” Khater says. “These protests have already overthrown one authoritarian ruler in Tunisia, appear to be pushing another in Egypt and could well spell the end of other regimes. These protests – which have taken place in widely varied countries, from the very liberal Tunisia to the more conservative Yemen – are similar in several ways. They are initiated and sustained by the youth (25 and younger), which collectively make up more than 60 percent of the population of the region. They are demanding an end to repressive and hereditary political rule, as well as economic corruption that benefits the elites of the country. They are also demanding better jobs, housing, education and infrastructure.
“While some U.S. commentators can only comprehend these unfolding events through the lens of ‘Muslim extremists,’ the reality on the ground is quite different. Indeed, what is remarkable about these social movements is that they have emerged outside the rubric of traditional parties, secular or Islamist. They are the amalgamation of workers and university students who are neither greatly interested in an Islamist government with its strict interpretation of religion, nor in a neo-liberal government dominated by, and catering to, a coterie of Westernized elites. These are the protests of the majority who hitherto have been silenced, and have exploded in fury over the indignities visited upon them by governments that are oppressive and corrupt; in other words they are carrying out their version of the American Revolution.”
*Source: North Carolina State University