Women from across the Middle East — from Morocco to Jordan, Egypt to Iraq — responded to the following question: What would an ideal constitution say on women’s rights?
On December 25, the U.S. State Department urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to “bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process.” The Christmas Day statement came three days after the draft constitution passed in a public referendum by 63.8 percent, but with only 32.9 percent voter turnout.
The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either.
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Arab uprisings, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars asked 39 experts from the Middle East, Europe and the United States the following question: Has the Arab Spring lived up to expectations?
On the second anniversary of the Arab uprisings, millions across the Middle East still have dreams of makeovers. But revolutionary fairy tales have devolved into the reality of running countries that are still without fully functioning governments or basic laws.
On December 13, Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns outlined U.S. policy in the Middle East two years after the Arab uprisings. Burns committed support for continued democratic changes and urged tolerance despite the turmoil. He emphasized the need for “sustainable democracy,” and not just stability. Burns also noted that the United States’ democratic transition “took fifteen years to deliver a President, Congress and Constitution—and even then it required ten amendments to pass and a civil war to realize its potential.” The war ended nearly 90 years after declaring independence from Great Britain.
Islamists are likely to be “more market-oriented” and entrepreneurial in the future, according to a new report by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” explores what the world could look like in the coming decades. The report predicts that Islam and other religions will play a larger role in global politics. But in the Middle East, “political pragmatism could trump ideology helped by a growing civil society that will begin to produce a new cadre of pragmatic, entrepreneurial and social leaders.” If pragmatists fail to improve the economy, hardline Islamists could gain popularity by offering a non-Western model, the report says.
Arab social media users are more likely to express their opinions on politics, community issues and religion than others in Europe, Latin America, the United States and Asia, according to a new survey by Pew. In Egypt and Tunisia, more than 60 percent of surveyed users share their political and religious views online. Less than 40 percent of European and U.S. users share their political and religious views.
Egypt’s Facebook sheikhs reflect the growing diversity within Islam. The new tech-savvy sheikhs range from rock-star street preachers to Salafi populists. Even the old clerics are finding they have to be hip to keep their flocks. Their television shows, broadcast on popular satellite stations, compete for viewers—generating new rivalries over who controls the Muslim message.
Women played frontline roles in the Arab uprisings, but have since faced growing political hurdles during the transitions. Nine female activists from Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Libya outlined the specific challenges to women’s participation at a meeting sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in October 2012. They also offered strategies for empowering women.