''The Arab Spring Could Turn out to Be a Twilight of the Gods'': Interview with Mohamed Turki

Analysis, posted 06.15.2012, from Tunisia, in:
''The Arab Spring Could Turn out to Be a Twilight of the Gods'': Interview with Mohamed Turki (Photo: Qantara.de)

You are a critical observer of the developments in the Arab world. The people in Syria have been protesting on the streets for a year now. Has the Arab Spring given rise to expectations that it cannot meet?

Mohamed Turki: Things started out well in the Arab countries and they really did give rise to hopes of a spring. One got the feeling that the Arab Spring would make the revolution blossom. It was not without reason that the revolution in Tunisia was called the "Jasmine Revolution". Unfortunately, however, the result and the consequences of the process of democratisation in these countries turned into a hot and bloody summer.

Staying with this analogy for a moment, autumn showed that uprisings were increasingly being crushed in a bloody manner. We saw this happening in Libya and also in Yemen, and before that in Bahrain, and we are currently seeing it in Syria. This was not what those who started the revolution had in mind or what they intended when they set this process in motion in Tunisia and Egypt. They wanted to bring about a peaceful process of democratisation across the entire Arab world.

Basically, they were demanding the principles of human rights, freedom and justice. Above all they wanted to fight nepotism and corruption and to make sure that the new structures and institutions had a human not a bloody face. Although the process is certainly not finished by a long shot, there is the risk that the Arab Spring could turn out to be a twilight of the gods because the movements are increasingly being brutally crushed.

The famous Algerian scholar of Islamic Studies, Mohammed Arkoun, criticises the "dogmatic closed nature of the system" in Arab society. You too agree with the Lebanese historian Hisham Sharabi in his criticism of the neo-patriarchal system, which you consider to be a major evil.

Turki: The neo-patriarchal system – which may look modern from the outside, but is in fact patriarchal – holds fast to certain consolidated structures of rule and resists any change in the balance of political power. This is why these neo-patriarchal structures – which may seem modern, but are in fact nothing more than modernistic – remain a sham. It takes more than this to be modern.

Being modern is a project that has many facets and necessitates many changes too. It begins with the rule of law, includes human rights and goes right up to economic, political and social structures, which should all be open. This is not the case with either neo-patriarchates or patriarchates.