The Arab Spring and the Preservation of Hope

The Rimini Meeting discusses the Arab Spring. Though some are nursing uncertainty about the outcome of this climate of revolution, others regard the underlying spirit of democratic solidarity as a firm foundation for what will follow.

Egyptian protesters in Cairo celebrate after President Mubarak announced his resignation. (photo: Pierre Marsaut/Zuma Press/Corbis)

In the northern Italian city of Rimini, a week-long summit of ideas, art, and culture known as the Rimini Meeting reached its midpoint. Among the multitude of topics in discussion, attention turned to the ongoing revolutionary movements which constitute the so-called “Arab Spring.” Vatican Radio notes:

The meaning of the Arab Spring is being discussed at the Rimini Meeting, the annual gathering organized by the lay movement Communion and Liberation. One concern has been the prospect of Islamist radicals gaining influence as autocratic regimes are being overthrown.

Indeed, this is not the first time that the subject has been broached, and it has led some to wonder: Is Islam compatible with democracy? John L. Esposito, Ph. D., the founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., tackled this very question in the July 2011 Issue of ONE magazine. Rev. Dr. Elias Mallon, S.A., CNEWA’s Education and Interreligious Affairs Officer, also weighed in on the matter in a connected multimedia feature.

Certainly, those involved remain hopeful. The article concludes:

“There is some difficulty for some Europeans to understand what is going on in the Arab world … because they start from their fears, not reality,” said Wael Farouq, President of Tawasul Cultural Centre in Cairo, and Vice President of the Cairo Meeting.

“What is happening now in Egypt is something that should make all of us – east and west, Christian world and Muslim world – feel safe because for the first time in history the power of noble human principles is winning a war against absolute materialist power. What moved the people in Tahir square, and what people had in Tahir square, was nothing but their faith” he told Vatican Radio during the Rimini Meeting.

“This power of faith, and this success of this faith, to change reality should make all of us feel safe and feel happy, and look in a very positive way toward the future,” he said.

The full radio report can be found beneath the article.  A previous speech given by Mr. Farouq to the United Nations in May can be viewed here.

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