I myself might have been the first one to underrate the Arab Spring. I can still clearly recall the morning I read the newspaper in mid-December 2010. I remember a little paragraph in the Middle East news section about protests in Tunisia.
After reading the article, I learned that the protesters were demanding freedom, dignity, and democracy. I honestly have to admit that I laughed at those slogans because I thought they were childish and clichéd.
The protests did not seem significant to me, so I quickly turned the page and continued reading what I thought was more serious.
The next day, and the day after that, I began to skip the part about the uprising and went to other sections. Until one morning, I was truly surprised to see that the news of these demonstrations became on the front page, and, just a few days later, the news reached the main section.
At first, I dismissed the slogans that were being raised, but I now realize how praiseworthy they really are. I thought that Bou Azizi, who immolated himself, was crazy. Now I know that he was courageous.
For instance, King Mohammad of Morocco was keen enough to proclaim political change by quickly modifying the constitution before any riots spread to his country. Maybe if all the other leaders behaved like the Moroccan king, they would have been able to avert national unrest.
In addition to being underrated, the Arab Spring was also disdained by many Arab presidents. We all remember how long before the outbreak of the Arab Spring, Saddam Hussein called his oppositionists in Iraq “dogs.”
After him came Muammar Gadhafi of Libya who was original enough to refer to his own oppositionists as “rats.” More recently, Bashar Al-Assad similarly, in his unique way, described his oppositionists as “terrorists.”
All of this shows that the Arab Spring was dreadfully misjudged by underrating its moral value and disdaining its activists. If only the Arab Spring were appreciated and respected, then it would not have been as chaotic as it is.
Frederic Abou Jaoude