On 17 December 2010, unemployed Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi publically burned himself to death. His protest against state harassment triggered off revolutions across Northern Africa, not least in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria. Dictators like Hosni Mubarak were toppled, and the slogan “the people demand the fall of the regime” echoed throughout the Arab world.
The Arab Spring resonated worldwide, inspiring anti-austerity protests in Greece, the Occupations of the Squares in Spain and Occupy Wall Street. It was finally clear to many in the West that Muslims and Arabs could fight for their own liberation. Western attempts to control the oil-rich Middle East were seriously threatened.
Eight years on, the picture is not so rosy. Mubarak’s successor Morsi was toppled by now-Egypt’s military dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The Syrian revolution has been largely quashed and Gaza remains under siege.
On Monday, 28th January, die LINKE Berlin Internationals are organising a meeting “What’s Left of the Arab Spring?” with Egyptian journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy. He is also an activist long involved in the Egyptian labour movement. In 2011 he sent regular despatches from the frontline in Cairo to several international media outlets, and was among the organizers in Tahrir Square.
Hossam will be looking back on the last 8 years of the Arab Spring and discussing what has been won and lost. What was the role of Islamism in the struggle, and how could socialists relate to this? Most importantly, what forces are still fighting capitalism and imperialism in the region and how can we support them?