Arab Spring:conference,don't be afraid of political Islam

Director of American Studies Centre, acid test after elections

29 November, 18:46

(ANSAmed) - ROME - People must not be frightened by election results in Tunisia and Morocco, which have seen victories for Islamic parties like Ennadha and Justice and Development, but must watch closely to see what the parties are able to do. This, in short, is the message sent out yesterday at the end of a study day dedicated to the Arab Spring and the future of Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which was organised by the French embassy in Italy and by the Ecole Francaise de Rome.

"Slogans such as 'Allah is the solution' should not scare anyone," said the director of the American Studies Centre, Karim Mezran, in his speech. "The solution now is no longer Allah. From now on they are the solution". Once they have been democratically elected, Mezran said, "exponents of Islamic parties will have no more alibis. They will no longer be able to keep hiding behind a slogan but will instead need to answer to the people who have elected them". The best consequence that the Arab uprisings have so far produced is to "bring Islam out into the open", he added. Now, Mezran believes, those elected must show what they can do and in which direction they intend to go. For this reason "we must not be afraid". The issue now, if anything, is to understand what Europe and the West are able to achieve. So far, they have done almost nothing, according to the EU's special representative for the southern Mediterranean region, Bernardino Leon. "Europe and the West have been unable to respond swiftly to this political and social earthquake within the Arab world. Now Europe must act, providing economic help for countries going through a period of transition". For this reason, Leon continued, "in the next two months new task forces will leave for Jordan, Morocco and Egypt, and perhaps even Libya". Task forces were adopted for the first time in June, when the EU High Representative, Lady Catherine Ashton, set up the first group for the southern Mediterranean with the aim of providing financial assistance for the development of civil society, economic reconstruction and the process of democratisation on the southern shores. Task forces are useful initiatives but are not enough, the MP Stefania Craxi repeated. "Schemes in favour of small and medium-sized businesses are also needed," Craxi said. Finally, a complete revival of Euro-Mediterranean policy is needed. One solution for overcoming the stagnation in which we have been for some time now is to concentrate on energy and food security, said the Moroccan ambassador to Italy, Hassan Abouyoub. "There is always an agreement between the two sides of the sea when it comes to energy," the ambassador explained. (ANSAmed).

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