The new idiom of popular frustration: Democracy

Behind many of the movements in the Middle East is simple repression. Many have suffered for generations under regimes that were never elected and would not be elected if the ordinary people got a chance to collectively select their preferred leaders. This is why the various movements — demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen — are not unlike the Islamist movement. In a way, what we see today is evidence that the Islamist appeal no longer appears to be the most salient idiom of public frustration. Consider the following, from Al Jazeera.

The ‘bin Laden’ of marginalisation
The real terror eating away at the Arab world is socio-economic marginalisation. by Larbi Sadiki 14 Jan 2011

Conventional wisdom has it that ‘terror’ in the Arab world is monopolised by al-Qaeda in its various incarnations. There may be some truth in this.

However, this is a limited viewpoint. Regimes in countries like Tunisia and Algeria have been arming and training security apparatuses to fight Osama bin Laden. But they were caught unawares by the ‘bin Laden within’: the terror of marginalisation for the millions of educated youth who make up a large portion of the region’s population.

The winds of uncertainty blowing in the Arab west – the Maghreb – threaten to blow eastwards towards the Levant as the marginalised issue the fatalistic scream of despair to be given freedom and bread or death.

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