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Does the Arab spring need a bill of rights?

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"We are at the turning point," argues Samir Aita, a member of the Syrian opposition and president of the Society for Arab Economists who splits his time between Paris and Damascus, Syria. "We are fighting about values in the middle of an uprising.... If this is not a fight for values, then it is not a revolution. It is just a series of uprisings. If it is a fight over values, you put it in writing. What is needed to consecrate the Arab Spring as a real revolution is a declaration of rights as witnessed in the French Revolution."

Constitutional models will soon proliferate in the Arab world – 12 drafts are already in circulation in Tunisia, and on Nov. 28 Egyptians are set to elect law-makers to shape a new constitution.

In a region chockablock with minorities, and with no autocrats to ensure stability, what such documents need are unequivocal guarantees of equality for all citizens, regardless of race or creed.

Protecting rights of minorities, women

Evidence of the need for minority protection in the Middle East is already coming thick and fast: This month – eight months after the Arab Spring – 27 Coptic Christians were killed when Egyptian tanks rolled into a crowd of protesters. Yet there is little accountability in Cairo for the massacre of peaceful protesters, part of which was caught on YouTube.

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