Arseh Sevom–In part two of Arturo Desimone’s interview with the civil society activist “O” in Azerbaijan, we read about the struggles to create capacity for critically analyzing the actions taken by the government. Education, O, argues is something that cannot be left to the government. “I think we have to start now with realism,” O states, “actually depicting the sufferings as they are, in their immense intensity and contrast, in all their extreme dimensions.”
Arseh Sevom — In the first of a two-part article documenting his conversation with Azeri opposition member “O.”, Arturo Desimone uncovers a movement struggling to reclaim its heritage of critical thinking. It does this through education, translations, and social movements. After ninety years under Soviet Rule followed by authoritarian rule rife with human rights abuses, O. describes a society in need of reconnecting to its own culture and in learning again to question, think critically, and create its own Enlightenment.
In the second issue of Arseh Sevom’s Civil Society Magazine, called David and Goliath, we asked contributors to tell us what comes after all the unity, after the giant is slain, after the monster is gone? What comes next? It was clearly a difficult question; one without a simple answer. The story of David and Goliath is a story of the (perceived) weak against the powerful, of prevailing against the odds, of bravery and leadership. However modern day Goliaths aren’t so easy to dispel with one little pebble.
While we may not have definitively answered the question, “What comes next,” the articles in this Zine share ideas about human rights, the Arab Anger, Islamicization, leadership, and women’s rights. These all make important contributions to our search for ways forward, while engaging a variety of voices from a range of experiences and locations.
The term “Arab Spring” has always felt ominous to me. After all, we all know what happened after the short-lived Prague Spring of 1968, which was brutally squashed. As I write this, we read that more than 32 people have been killed in clashes in Cairo’s Tahir Square. Thousands have been arrested. Amnesty is reporting that people in Egypt who dare to express themselves are being arrested and tried in military courts.
In this interview, Arturo Desimone talks to Tunisian student activist Ghassen Athmni. They discuss the democratic future of Tunisia, non-violence, Islamism, and the (then) coming elections. Athmni states, “This is not a revolution born out of pacifist ideology like the ones you associate pacifism with. There is no moral value of non-violence or ending the evil of all wars. The “bloodless” or “non-violent” character of our revolution is more embedded in the North African and Carthaginian cultures. North Africans do not see viability in violence as a road to power, we always prefer to circumvent violence, we walk around it whenever we can to find a better, more silent way.”
Photos from a trip to Tunisia, taken by Arturo Desimone.
Arturo Desimone chats with student activist Ghassen Athmni about Islamism, conservatism, and extremism in Tunisia. This interview elaborates on the longer one published in the Civil Society Zine as A Rebellion of Civil Society, available here<
Amal Hamidallah-van Hees (A Letter to an Iranian Woman from Her Arab Friend) is the director of Bridging the Gulf Foundation for human security in the Gulf region. Van Hees has a long history of working in the field of democracy, agency and participation, peace and security, human development, economic justice, gender and human rights [...]