Arab Spring needs student voices
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
SMU students are expressing their voices and attempting to increase their knowledge about the Arab Spring.
“I’m assuming I don’t know much about it because of the elections, because it’s taking up most of the news coverage,” SMU sophomore Addison Bollin said.
Bollin believes that the U.S. is somehow involved in the current events in Egypt, and said that it is important for students to know about whatever America is involved in globally.
Bollin believes there are many ways that SMU can educate students about current events in other countries. Bollin said that by having a current events section in the school’s newspaper, creating a university website solely for current events or sending out a daily email blasts, SMU can get students to know about the Middle East.
The university teamed up with the Egyptian-American Rule of Law Association, The American Constitution Society and the International Law Students Association to bring Egyptian journalist and scholar Mirette Mabrouk to SMU. Mabrouk spoke to about 25 students on Wednesday, Oct. 31 in Florence Hall.
“I’m hopeful, and I remain hopeful [things will change],” Mabrouk said, explaining the situation in her country.
Mabrouk said Egypt is still in the process of establishing itself after living in a dictatorship for centuries. After former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was deposed, different people and organizations, like the Liberals, Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, wanted power.
Mabrouk explained that many of the religious groups, such as Salafis, pick and choose what they would like to impose on people. She believes that the government should help bring an end to many cultural practices that hold families back. Mabrouk gave an example of families marrying off their teenage daughters to rich men in the Gulf so they can ensure a better life for them. Individuals can’t bring an end to such practices, she said, but the law can.
“That [the law] is one of the things the country is currently struggling with,” she said.
Mabrouk said many Egyptian families partake in cultural practices that need to be demolished by the government. Laws against unjust cultural practices could provide an opportunity to help enlighten the basic Egyptian man and woman. She sees legal intervention as a way of re-establishing the government and a fair way of life in the country.
Texas Wesleyan School of Law professor Sahar F. Aziz, a member of the Egyptian-American Rule of Law organization, believes that it is important to host such events at universities to help students stay up-to-date with news in Egypt and other Arab countries.
Arab countries face many issues after the revolution. Aziz said that there are many complexities in the post-revolution phase in Egypt. She believes that Mabrouk has a very sophisticated understanding of the political, economic and social circumstances in Egypt that students should know in order to better interpret the news emerging from the region.
“Things are not as black and white as they appear in the media,” Aziz said.
The Arab revolts began in Dec. 2010 in Tunisia, followed by Egypt in January and Libya in February. All three countries successfully overthrew their rulers, but still struggle in building democracy. The Syrian revolution began in March 2011, and civilians continue to fight every day in hopes of demolishing the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.
SMU recently established an SMU Gone Global blog to help educate students about international events, such as the revolts in the Middle East. Visit SMUinternational.wordpress.com to learn more.