Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Impressions from Universitat Rovira i Virgili Summer University

While applying for postgraduate studies on Euro-Mediterranean relations, I got invited to a seminar on the theme Identity conflict (focus on Egypt and Tunisia) as a part of a Summer University at Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain). The seminar focused on the Arab Spring and the effects it has on the rest of the world.
Just imagine what you see on TV, now you are hearing from actual people involved in this revolutions that shook up the world and managed to bring down two state officials of the highest rank, presidents Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali, being on top of their countries for 30/23 years.
The interesting thing are the similarities you come across:
- youth involvement (followed by mass attendance by all ages, all religions)
- media ignorance
- social media as a tool for organisation
- inspired by small incidents that were the last drop in the overflowed glass  
- preconditioned by: high unemployment, corruption, lack of freedom of speech
- non-violent
- non political involvement
- spontaneous organisation
- no leaders
- police brutality
Sounds familiar?
A young couple from Egypt described their revolution in a most inspiring way, making everyone in the audience mouth dropped. One of their main points was: will Europe follow us? My question was do they see a pattern of action in the revolutions starting in Tunisia, did they ask Tunisian youth for advice, did they give advice to other Arab countries? The introduction was that there are protests in Macedonia for the last 30 days, concerning police brutality that ended with the death of a young boy. 1)
So everyone’s head turned around asking. Their answer was pretty short and concise - they collaborated joined by a great cause, freedom. After the discussion was over, a Spanish journalist approached me with a question - what is going on in Macedonia, I follow all the world news, I write about them, I haven't heard anything. So, I answered and another girl from Turkey (working on her PhD) approached with the same question, followed by another one from Syria. You could just hear voices of affirmation and motivation to move on until you've achieved your cause.
It was an unforgettable experience to hear young people who can move masses, who decided to take their fate in their own hands stating they don't have anything so they have nothing to lose, went through humiliation, brutality, pressures and at the end, won.
The question remains will Europe follow? At the moment there are information about impact of the Arab spring in Europe in: Albania, Belarus, Croatia, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Northern Cyprus, Portugal and Spain. 2)
Will Macedonia follow? Is it already following?

2)  Wikipedia article on Impact of the Arab Spring/2.3 Europe, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_of_the_Arab_Spring