Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice from North Africa to Iran

Edited by Sohrab Ahmari and Nasser Weddady. Palgrave Macmillan, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-230-11592-7
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In Egypt, a man bribes a member of the morality police to avoid being arrested for committing “acts of public indecency.” The act in question is a walk in the park with his fiancée. In Iran, a Sunni schoolgirl is rebuked and scorned for praying without a Shi’a prayer stone, and her father faces prison for the same offence. A woman watches a cat cross the Tunisian-Libya border and wishes she had the cat’s freedom to travel throughout the Arab world without a male guardian. Less polished than Reading Lolita in Tehran, but more immediate and raw, the essays in this collection were written by activists age 25 and under and culled from 8,000 entries submitted over five years for the Dream Deferred Essay Contest on Civil Rights in the Middle East, conducted online and sponsored by private foundations, including the Earhart Foundation and The Liberty Fund. The essays provide glimpses of daily life in countries where civil rights do not exist. Recognizing that the status of women is “a key barometer to the openness of a society,” editors Amari, a law student at Northeastern University, and Weddady, the civil rights outreach director of the American Islamic Congress, devote one section to the additional obstacles women face. Though the essay contest seemed like a quixotic gesture at its inception in 2005, it turns out to have been prescient. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/30/2012
Release date: 05/08/2012
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