Last week, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain badly stumbled at an editorial meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displaying his limited knowledge of the current situation in Libya. His campaign blamed the gaffe on 4 hours of sleep and an ambiguous question from reporters. A few days later, Cain asked the media in a rhetorical manner, “Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go, do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be a part of the government?” For the record, the Taliban has never been associated with Gadhafi or Libya.
Various iconic photos of the 20th and 21st century have sparked inspiration, reflection, and at times, even outrage; the Afghan girl in National Geographic, the crying Vietnamese children, and the vulture staring at a starving child in Sudan.
A number of images have received a great deal of attention during the Arab Spring, but one sticks out for its powerfully emotional evocation: Zehra Tajouri’s photo of her sister’s humble and defiant pose is one for the history books. The photo, taken and posted on Tajouri’s blog on February 16—the first day of the revolution—received immediate attention inside and outside of Libya.
The revolts in Libya, the most recent in a series of uprisings that has swept the Middle East, began days after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11th. Inspired by the successful movements in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans have taken to the streets to call for Muammar al-Qaddafi, the leader since 1969, to step down. Protesters have been met with violent retaliation from government forces, with estimates of the death toll around 2000.
Tomorrow, March 2nd, on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, Jean will talk about non-violent resistance in the Middle East. The recent protests that began in Tunisia and Egypt and led to the ousting of both leaders have now spread to Yemen and Libya. What has caught the attention of the world is how peaceful, for the most part, these protests have been. When there has been violence, it has come from the government forces.
Discussions of these protests have characterized Islam–as embodied in groups like the Muslim Brotherhood— as something negative and more importantly violent, almost completely ignoring Islam’s tradition of non-violent resistance. This tradition stems from historical events, discussions about warfare, and Qur’anic verses that demonstrate the need for peaceful engagement. Continue reading
The protests in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the removal of the leaders of both countries have now spread to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Iran. According to some commentators, these protests reflect a relatively new push for democracy by the Arab peoples. In other words, the democracy that Western nations have enjoyed is now appearing in the Middle East. The implicit explanation for this “delay,” for some, is that most Arabs are Muslim and Islam is not compatible with democracy.
Over 15,000 protesters marched on the Capitol in Madison,Wisconsin today, demanding state legislators to vote down recently proposed legislation termed radical by citizens and leaders of all political leanings. Among thousands of students and public and private employees were Muslim-Americans calling for lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Yesterday, among over 13,000 protesters congregating to protest the same legislation, Rashid Dar, President of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered his own opinion of the situation. “I hesitate to tell people how to pick their politics, but in choosing our sides we would do well to consider who is working to bring the most overall benefit to society at large, and who is working to benefit a select, but influential, elite.”