The Arab Nation

13 November 2013. 
KF Allam, Universita' di Trieste. 

The first of four seminars on The Arab Spring has been given by Khaled F Allam of the University of Trieste on 13th November 2013, 9.00 pm.  The Arab nation includes the countries in which Arabic is the primary language and Islam the primary religion, namely the twenty two countries that comprise the Arab league. The Arab nation though is not a homogeneous world, as the social and political structures of individual states differ substantially as a result of their recent historical evolution from diverse colonial backgrounds (see for example Tunisia, vs Algeria vs Libya). Islam itself, the second defining element of the Arab nation, has been a source of deep division, as the conflicts between Arab groups following Sunni Islam and Arab groups following Shia Islam have successively demonstrated.  So what unites diverse Arab countries in their common and recent social and political struggles ?

According to KF Allam, it is the increasingly difficult relationship with political Islam, the link between Sharia and State, that constitutes the nucleating factor of the Arab uprising. In this landscape it is possible to see several different paradigms. One paradigm increasingly popular especially among the young people of several Arab states, is is the so-called Turkish model. In Turkey, a non-Arab state in which Islam is the primary religion, the law of the state is the law of the state and not the law of Islam (Sharia). Across the Arab world this model remains the exception and not the rule but KF Allam believes that in several Arab states the evolution toward the Turkish model may constitute the way toward a more modern state in which more freedom and a higher degree of social and economic development. Democracy though implies the will to live together and basic solutions to gender inequalities and the rights of minority groups.  These concepts are remote among a large fraction of the population of a number of Arab countries and the conflict between groups who have radically different views about political Islam and the role of the state have been very apparent recently in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.  But technology appears to underpin a process of change, in the view of KF Allam. The web and social networks have made it clear to the Arab youth that being 20 years old is the same everywhere in the world and a new culture is developing across the Arab youth that may pave the way for a later transformation of Arab societies and states. In this respect KF Allam sees a similarity between the uprising of the American and European youth in 1968 and the current events the Arab world. So, there are good reasons to believe that the recent uprisings are the starting points for a new age in Arab History.

KF Allam is at the University in Trieste, with further appointments at the University of Stanford in Florence and the University of Urbino. He was born in Algeria but educated in Italy and is a major expert on Islam, immigration, citizenships and religious identity. He has collaborated with the European Council as an advisor on these topics, and submitted several reports to the Immigration Working Group of the Italian Government. He was elected to the Lower Chamber of Italian Parliament in 2008. He contributes regularly to several Italian national newspapers, such a Avvenire, La Stampa and La Repubblica. Benedetta Broggi.



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