What the Arab Spring, Europe Protests Havein Common
The "Arab Spring" pro-democracymovement began in Tunisia. Protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali toresign in January.
A short time later, protests in Egyptforced out President Hosni Mubarak, another longtime Arab leader.
Mary Kaldor was part of the oppositionmovement in Hungary during the Cold War. She is now a professor of globalgovernance at the London School of Economics.
MARY KALDOR: "People assumed thatsomehow the Middle East was different and that was based on assumptions thatsomehow Islam is different -- 'It's not like us.' And that was an assumptionthat underpinned the war on terror, too. And I think what's so wonderful aboutthe Arab Spring is that it's disproving that assumption. It's showing thatArabs are just as democratic as everyone else."
As the Arab Spring grew, protests alsobegan in parts of Europe.
In Athens, thousands protested cuts ingovernment spending and other budget reforms. Protesters occupied SyntagmaSquare outside Greece's Parliament. Professor Kaldor says the anger was similarto what the Arab demonstrators felt.
MARY KALDOR: "It's all about, I think,a failure of representation, a feeling that the political class is one class,'We can't influence them, it's outrageous that they're suddenly saying that wehave to pay for what the banks did.' And I think that there's a similar feelingof outrage in the Arab world. So I think there are very many similaritiesbetween what's happening in Europe and what's happening in the Arabworld."
In Spain, protesters occupied the Puertadel Sol square in central Madrid, copying the earlier protests in Cairo'sTahrir Square.
In London, British protesters demonstratedearlier this year against their government's cost-cutting measures. Owen Tudoris international secretary for the Trades Union Congress in Britain.
OWEN TUDOR: "I think there are cleardifferences for what's going on in different countries. We're talking aboutdemocracies in Europe, dictatorships across much of North Africa. But many ofthe causes of what's happened have been very similar. It's about the economiccrisis."
Israel recently had some of its largestdemonstrations ever. Israelis have criticized housing costs, wages, taxes andrising prices for food and fuel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promisingeconomic reforms but has failed to satisfy social activists.
Some observers see the Arab Spring comingto a halt in Libya and Syria. But Professor Kaldor says the protests havealready changed the Arab world.
MARY KALDOR: "Nineteen eighty-ninebrought an end to the Cold War. I think what twenty-eleven did was to sidelinethe war on terror. It marginalized al-Qaida. Osama bin Laden may have beenphysically killed in Pakistan, but he's been politically killed by thedemonstrations in the Middle East."
The protests in the Arab world might neverhave amounted to much without the use of social media to help organize protests.
The Pearl Roundabout traffic circle inManama became Bahrain's own version of Tahrir Square. Protesters, mostlyShi'ite Muslims, set up camp and demanded reforms. Bahrain's minority Sunnigovernment, with military help from neighboring nations, violently suppressedthe uprising.
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