Cry For Freedom

By Nuria Aziz (AWM Media Worker)

It started with Tunisia, a small Muslim country in North Africa, with a population of just over ten million, and spread rapidly to Egypt, the largest and one of the oldest nations in the Arabic-speaking world. By February of 2011, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s longest-serving leader since Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century, had stepped down after almost thirty years in power. Then news of protests came from Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, quickly followed by Libya and Syria. It soon appeared as if each of the twenty-one countries identified as the Arab world had been touched by this upsurge of popular unrest. The West looked on, bewildered at the speed of change, which was perhaps reminiscent of the downfall of the communist regimes in the 1980s. The same longing for freedom, justice and democracy – the motto of the recently formed Transitional Council of the Libyan Republic – has found expression in the voices of tens of thousands of Arabs across the globe. Only a few countries, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have narrowly avoided significant upheaval, at least for the moment, by taking swift political and economic action.

However, as the euphoria subsides, the troubles subsist, and onlookers find themselves once more involved in a military intervention in the Arab world, where, at present, no solution has been found to the violence and killings. Israel is also anxiously watching and waiting to see whether secular government or religious extremists will hold sway in the area.

Unity And Diversity

Although the countries of the Arab world appear united in their desire for greater political freedom and economic growth, there are vast differences in terms of their geography, population and culture.  Broadly speaking, the Arab world can be identified as comprising three major regions – the Middle East and the Levant, North Africa, and the Gulf Countries of the Arabian Peninsula. The complex history as well as economic and cultural differences in the region make it difficult to generalise about the situation. It is worth taking a closer look at each area, so that we may pray more effectively, particularly at this time of crisis.

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