The Political Science and Public Administration department held in Jamrich room 1320, a World Affairs Council lecture by Rania Abouzeid, a journalist for 15 years. Like other talks, it was aired virtually from Calvin College in lower Michigan. A room of students along with a few community members attended this talk. The lecture “Life After the Arab uprising and the Islamic State” featured Abouzeid telling of her experiences in Syria. Abouzeid is the author of “No Turning Back: Life, Loss and Hope in Wartime Syria.”
She began by telling the story of Mohammad being beat, bribed and humiliated by police in his hometown. Unable to get justice, Mohammad set himself on fire in the street, later dying. This desperate act began an uprising on a much larger scale. Abouzeid talked about “how a country unraveled one person at a time.”
After the uprising of Mohammad’s small community, it spread to larger areas in the Middle East. People wanted to have self-worth and dignity, and across the region they began to break the barrier of fear. The impossible was happening as the people called for freedom and change.
Abouzeid told how the ruling regimes in the Middle East were built on fear. The unemployment was high, young people could not afford to marry and leave home. She noted that one-third of the population is under age 30, even higher in some areas. Simple goals are unattainable for the young people to be successful and earn a living. Abouzeid tells about refugees leaving the country. As many as half the population went to such places as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon causing pressure on the smaller countries.
She ended the talk with questions both in person and over text, for those who were streaming the event live. Abouzeid said “the world is a really small place.” Policies are being made in Michigan and elsewhere that affect the rights of citizens.
The uprising in Syria is a humanitarian fight and a worldwide human rights issue, she said.
The right to expect peace and democracy are worth fighting for, and hope can flourish with the sharing of stories of survival during the conflict, Abouzeid added. With knowledge of the events in the Middle East, we can have an understanding of what has caused the uprising and what the solution may be, she said.
Each session airs every Tuesday at noon in Jamrich room 1320 and runs through March 26.