The Myth of Arab Spring

I have post my new article “The Myth of Arab Spring and Liberal Democracy” on my page at:

Abstract of the Article:

The term “Arab Spring” was popularized, perhaps invented, by the Western media in early 2011, when the successful uprising against unsavory strongmen like, Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, brought down the dictators. It emboldened similar anti-government protests in some other Arab countries, while a wave of terrorism and bloody offensive from Pakistan to the shores of Mediterranean was ravaging the Muslim lands. It was, basically, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and rebellions, spread across the Middle East rather than a struggle for the rule of the liberal democracy in the Arab lands. Its purpose, relative success, and outcome remain hotly disputed among foreign observers and world powers, looking to exploit the changing political scenario of the Middle East. But the events in the Middle East went in a less straightforward direction. Egypt and Tunisia entered an uncertain transition period;  Syria, Libya, and Yemen are drawn into a civil conflict, while the wealthy monarchies in the Persian Gulf remain largely unshaken by the events. Use of the term Arab Spring is today viewed as a myth or an inaccurate and simplistic movement that disappeared just as the spring gone without flowering. It has, however, left behind a big question: Is the Arab World going to be revisited by a real “Arab Spring” or is the challenge of “Islamic Khilafat” going to end its prospects of democratic modernity?

For all the manifest corruption, for all the scandal of flaunted riches and abused power, the heart of Islam still beats strongly. Is there a possibility that the Arabs should not emphasize that religion is far above politics, or at least in the beginning stage of a nation’s political order “one serves as an instrument of the other.” The Arabs can find a way to liberal democracy by following what the renowned America poet Walt Whitman reflected about liberal democracy in USA: “For I say at the core of democracy, finally, is the religious element. All the religions, old and new, are there.” The concept of “Twin Tolerations”—the minimal boundaries of freedom of action that must somehow be crafted for political institutions vis-a-vis religious authorities, and for religious individuals and groups vis-a-vis political institutions, intertwining liberal democracy with the belief of the religious oriented masses—can help the political leaders indigenize initially a form of theo-liberal-democracy based on the Islamic concept of  “rights of the people are more venerable than the rights of God.” The real problem with the Arabs and the Muslims in general is that for the believers religion supersedes politics, while the modernists seek liberal democracy free from the shackles of religion. However, there exists a symbiotic relationship between a religious adaptation and the liberal-democratic formation.—— Mirza Ashraf.


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