World Press Photo 2011, presents his photographs as the starting point for a conversation with bloggers and experts on the situation #afterthespring

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“We were wrong to identify Arab bloggers as the key figures behind the revolutions, perhaps because they were the perfect candidates”

lurdes_vidal_iemed

In these interviews, we’ve been identifying clichés or errors of reporting in our view of the Arab Springs and the societies that produced the revolutions. Lurdes Vidal, head of the Mediterranean Arab World Section of the Institut Europeu de la Mediterrània (IEMed), talks about these two errors of perspective. The first is the “immediate identification we established between the people causing the revolution and a specific sector, bloggers, Arab cyberactivists”. Here, Vidal recognises the fact that, because “they made our task of broadcasting information easier, we identified bloggers as the main agents, because they were the perfect candidates—young, active, modern and committed, speaking French and English, languages that we understand, with values and aspirations that we share. [...] Afterwards, when elections take place and are won by the socio-political movements that suffered most under the foregoing regimes—that is, the Islamists—in the West we tend to think that the revolution has been hijacked, that revolution was the work of these youngsters and now the old men have taken it over”, she explains. Vidal also cautions us about the Western idea that Islamism and democracy aren’t compatible. For this expert in the Arab world, “it is logical that there should be references to Islam in the constitution”, as there are also references to religion in European constitutions. For Lurdes Vidal, the key questions in the constitutions of these countries are not so much the presence of Islam in the text as rights, the limits of freedom of expression and equality between men and women.

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Lurdes Vidal >

Chief Officer for Arab World (IEMed)
Lurdes vidal is the Chief Officer for Arab and Mediterranean World in the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). She holds a degree in Translation and Interpretation from the UAB and studied International Relations. She lectures on the subject of Arab Politics in the Master on the Arab and Islamic World at the UB. She is Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal afkar/ideas and contributes to diverse media.