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15 February 2011
Deakin University Professor and Director of the Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Fethi Mansouri will join experts on the Middle East this Thursday 17 February at a public forum examining the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia and the prospects for change in the Arab world.
Professor Mansouri, who is also the university's Chair in Migration and Intercultural Research said events in Tunisia and Egypt had caught everyone - international experts on theories of political change as well as Western policy makers – by surprise.
"I count myself among them. I was in Tunisia, my place of birth, during the first week when the protests in the province of Sidi Bouzid started and I must admit I did not expect that two weeks later these protests would become a fully fledged revolution that would oust the Ben Ali regime," he said.
"The West must now seize the historic opportunity posed by this Arab revolution."
Professor Mansouri said it was time for the West to realise that assisting democracy in the Arab states was no longer a stark choice between supporting a pro-Western dictatorship with varying degrees of corruption and authoritarianism on the one hand or supporting an anti-Western religious radical group which ascended to power through democratic elections but whose social-political outlook was anything but democratic on the other.
"The events in Tunisia and Egypt have shown that real change in the region can be achieved and that this need not be the outcome of either foreign intervention, military coups or a power grab by religious radicals," he said.
"Tunisia and Egypt, while each having their own specificities, have the potential to be replicated in many neighbouring countries.
"The US, France, the UK, Australia -all freedom-loving nations - should not be worried by these events instead they should be heartened by the fact that two countries at the heart of the Arab world succeeded in bringing about regime change through civilised popular revolt and with minimum violence and destruction. There is hope yet for the Middle East."
The forum will run from 5pm to 6.30pm at the Carrillo Gantner Lecture Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne.
The other panellists are: Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh, Deputy Director, National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies and Professor of Asian Politics, (Middle East & Central Asia)
The University of Melbourne
Dr Luca Anceschi, Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Relations, LaTrobe University
Dr Benjamin MacQueen, Lecturer, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Deputy Director, Global Terrorism Research Centre Monash University
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