3 Apr

Being an Arabist, Sovietologist and change agent, the current events in Northern Africa and the Middle East have my special attention. The death of Mohamed Bouazizi signalled the start of butterfly effect 2.0. Not only in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but also in Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia, Syria,Yemen, Oman and elsewhere in the region the oppressed are making themselves heard.
Through Twitter, Facebook and good old street demonstrations, people call for freedom, transparancy and more jobs. Just like their Soviet sisters did almost a century ago, women are raising their banners, fists and voices to call for more rights, too.
The Saudi Women Revolution Statement, distributed via social media, sums up seven demands for women’s rights, including political rights, the right to drive a car and a ban on underaged marriage.
At last month’s UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, I met with the Bahrain Women’s Association , who fight for women’s empowerment from within the Islamic system of beliefs. In close cooperation with Islamic scholars they work towards a female-friendly reinterpretation of the Quran, touching upon issues such as polygamy and (forced) teen marriage.
Fortunately, men also make their contribution to the shevolution in the Arab world. Egyptian blogger Ahmed Awadalla posted an interesting article on the virginity cult. Because, he argues, this is not just a political, but also a personal revolution. “It is at times like these when we should reconsider where we stand and where we want to be in the future.” Yalla!

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