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

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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid