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The Arab world has changed past the point of no return - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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People in the Arab world are becoming increasingly convinced, day after day, that they are able to exercise their democratic right to vote where fair and equal conditions are provided for them to do so.

Following the successful electoral scene in Tunisia that was conducted in a civilized manner without any major incidents, we now see the biggest Arab election scene – so far – taking place in Egypt, peacefully and with great success. Voter turnout exceeded expectations, whilst the quality and depth of electoral participation was also very high. This is not to mention the lack of irregularities, the security presence, and the Egyptian people’s commitment to the elections. This was also the case in Morocco, which witnessed ideal and respectable elections whose results were accepted without any disruptive incidents or objections casting doubt on the electoral process. For many decades, the Arab world held farcical elections which were of no real value, with scenes that were closer to tyranny than freedom of opinion and genuine [political] participation. There were scenes of citizens voting in favour of their visionary president, marking their ballot papers with their own “blood”, alongside “spontaneous” demonstrations of support that accompanied these highly organized events, in order to contribute to the continued brainwashing of the people and consecrate the ruling individual who “embodied” the homeland and the people. The “results” of the elections were unbelievable, often suggesting that the president or ruling party had obtained 99 percent of the vote. Of course, such election results are completely unbelievable and impossible! All this and more has contributed to the recent birth of a sense of pride in the Arab world with regards to the issue of electoral participation and contribution to the political decision making process in a genuine fashion, rather than this being a mere formality.

[Arab regimes] spent years disregarding their people, believing that they did not have the will, nor were they able or prepared for democracy. This was reinforced day and night, both in secret and in public, until the people believed they were inferior beings.

However differences scenes across the world suggest otherwise. We have seen the revolutionaries and then the military come to power in the Philippines which has today shifted into a genuine democratic state. This was also the case with the largest Islamic state, Indonesia, which also got rid of corruption and moved towards a genuine democratic and parliamentary system, and which is now considered to be successful and effective state.

This also happened in Ghana which was once ruled by influential military ruler Jerry Rawlings who later, dignifiedly and honourably, retired from political life after he had established a real democratic state which is now making astounding economic successes. The same situation was experienced by Bangladesh, the large but poor Muslim state, which initially suffered from a number of military coups and tyrannical rule, but now enjoys genuine democracy, peaceful transition of power, and the prosecution of corrupt officials.

All these examples from the Third World, whether we are talking about small or large countries, Muslim or non-Muslim countries, rich or poor countries, highlight that there is a basic and deeply-rooted part of human nature which, if granted a fair and equal opportunity, will seek a dignified and free life. This is because people, by their natural disposition, are conscious that this is a divine right granted by God, yet this right is denied by means of despotism, slavery and injustice. Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt all are laying down the new criteria for Arab dignity: namely the right to equal and fair participation in the political decision-making process to end despotism, injustice, repression, humiliation, and indignity.

Yemen and Libya will soon join this honourable and blessed undertaking, and then Syria will follow this after it has removed the despotic and murderous [al-Assad] regime. Syria will do so after it has gained its deserved freedom, joining other dignified and liberated nations in the Arab world who have decided to stop boasting about their glorious past and instead create a better present. This will undoubtedly help to create a better future for a generation of youths who, alongside their fathers and grandfathers, have long been marginalized by history, with these countries being viewed as unproductive and a burden on the rest of the world. What we are witnessing today is the changing of the Arab world, and the beginning of a new era!

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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