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Podium 3: Regional perspectives: Reconciling the fight for liberty and the wish for stability



For many people in the region, the North African upheavals have fundamentally changed their political conscience. Political forces, that had – until the beginning of 2011 – been mainly active in the underground came to (new) power and new audience. Among them religious forces, that currently are under harsh attack against the background of the war against terror. Facing the wars in Syria and Libya, most societies  in the region are seeking political and economic stability. Meanwhile governments are using this desire for safety in a manipulative way in justifying a strong hand on freedom of political expression.

How should activists deal with this legitimate longing for safety and stability on the one hand and the instrumentalization of fears of jihadist attacks through the regimes on the other? What positions do political activists have vis-à-vis actors of moderate political Islam in their respective countries? According to them, how can democratic processes take place when these actors are excluded from participation while they are having a big constituency? How do they view the current examples of Egypt and Tunisia and the polarization of secular and Islamic forces? Would they rather exclude religious actors – and make concessions to democracy? Does one include Islamists in the political system, even if this might lead to restrictions on women's and LGBTQI rights?

We want to discuss these questions with Egyptian filmmaker Jihan el-Tahri, Libyan journalist Salah Zater, Algerian political activist Amina Bouraoui and Tunisian university professor for political sciences Mohamed-Chérif Ferjani (requested).

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