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The Arab world’s challenge

Marwan Muasher

 

The fact that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet – a group of four organizations that played a key role in Tunisia’s attempts to build a pluralistic democracy after its 2011 revolution – demonstrates how important inclusive policies are to the building of a strong democracy.

Despite major differences between its secular and religious forces, the Tunisians were able, in three short years after the revolution, to agree on a constitution that ensured a place in society for all groups – upholding the peaceful rotation of power, granting full rights to women and ensuring protections for freedoms of speech and belief.

So far, Tunisia has been a rare exception in the region. In Egypt, exclusionist policies by both Islamist forces and so-called liberal secular forces have meant the country is still mired in a deep economic crisis and political stagnation. In the Gulf, countries are behaving as if the problem were purely economic, and in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is targeting the cultural and religious diversity of the region, and threatening centuries of co-existence.

The Arab world is a diverse region that has not respected diversity. The last several decades have been characterized by an almost total absence from Arab discourse of diversity and pluralism. After decades of neglecting good governance and economic development, it is no wonder the region finally erupted.

 

The article’s full-text is available here

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