News / Europe

Europe Watches Arab Protests for Lessons

Thousands of Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2011
Thousands of Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

Europeans have been closely following anti-government protests in the Arab world with mixed views about their implications back home.  

Just a few months ago, Europe was rocked by popular protests against rising prices, unemployment and austerity measures. Demonstrators took to the streets of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Britain and France. Now Europe is watching another set of popular uprisings - in Arab countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, just across the Mediterranean Sea.

The head of the New York-based Trends Research Institute, Gerald Celente, says what is happening in the Arab world has direct implications in Europe. He believes Arabs and Europeans share the same grievance: the economy.

"Could they care less if it was an autocratic government if people were making money?  Autocrat, dictator, democracy - people could care less, so long as they were doing well," said Celente.

Celente believes the 2010 protests in Europe are just the beginning. He warns the demonstrations washing across North Africa and the Middle East will migrate to Europe.

To be sure, references to the Arab protests can be seen in Europe. Tens of thousands of Serbians rallied Saturday in Belgrade, protesting high prices and unemployment, and calling for early elections. One Serbian opposition-party member said the protests in Tunisia and Egypt sent a message to all governments to listen to their people.

In Italy, a software hacking group called "Anonymous" attacked the Italian government website Sunday to protest its policies. The cyber attack was similar to those it had launched in Egypt and Tunisia.

But the Brussels director of the French Institute for International Relations, Olivier Jehin, doubts Europe will see more widespread protests.

"I think the main austerity measures have been taken last year," said Jehin. "Probably there could be some new demonstrations in a few countries, but it will not take the same importance as in North Africa, except perhaps for some specific countries in the Balkans."

Research fellow Rime Allaf, of the London-based policy institute Chatham House, also warns against comparing European and Arab protest movements.

"Yes, there are great causes of discontent in Europe," said Allaf, "however this would be forgetting that one major component of the revolts in the Arab world and the uprising is not just economic, but very importantly, it is political."

Allaf said that however imperfect European democracies are, they do not deny freedom of expression as do a number of autocratic Arab governments. Nor does she believe, as some analysts suggest, that the Arab world is going through its own version of the fall of communism in eastern Europe.

"The fall of the Berlin wall was the fall of an entire ideology that was running those regimes, which was communism," she added. "In the Arab world, it is not a single ideology that has been ruling - these 22 Arab countries."

Critics like Allaf say that perhaps the main fallout of Arab protests in Europe is the failure of its foreign policy.

"By claiming they were pushing democracy, but when push came to shove not ready to allow people in," said Allaf. "The Arab world to have the same rights as their own citizens in the West."

So today, some analysts say, the main lesson Europe can draw from the Arab street is to listen to it.

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid