SAAD EDDIN IBRAHIM: After the Arab Spring, Tunisian and Egyptian Scenarios

By Lama Abdel Barr

Saad Eddin Ibrahim During the Panel Discussion. Photo by Adam Awad

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at AUC, discussed Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions at a panel discussion titled: “After the Arab Spring: Tunisian and Egyptian Scenarios”, on Sunday Mar. 25 at Al Waleed Building.

The discussion, chaired by Professor of International Relations Bahgat Korany, featured a diverse audience of around 40 members, including faculty, students and alumni.

Ibrahim explored the similarities and differences between the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions during the Arab Spring, and offered predictions and postulations on the countries’ respective political futures.

One of the relations between both revolutions that Ibrahim examined was the platform of sustainability that the Tunisian revolution offered to the Egyptian one.  Ibrahim discussed how the Egyptians benefited from, and built on, the past experiences of the Tunisian revolutionaries.

To expand upon that, Ibrahim referenced the slogan “Tunisia today, Egypt tomorrow” that was adopted by Egyptian activists in the early stages of the revolution.

Ibrahim then drew a comparison between both revolutions regarding the rise of Islamists. Even though the rise of Islamists was a prominent facet of the post-revolutionary state of both countries, Ibrahim pointed out that the Islamists in Tunisia are far “more advanced” than the Islamists in Egypt.

“They are more advanced in terms of their attitude toward modernity, women and the West,” he explained.

Ibrahim emphasized that identical comparisons and relations cannot be made between any revolutions, and certainly not between Egypt and Tunisia.

“Every country has its own experience, its own history, its own trial and error,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim expressed his belief in the youth as the best tool for reform and the ideal subjects for holding power.

“The true revolutionaries are not in power — it is one of the rare revolutions where the revolutionaries are not in power,” Ibrahim stated.

Ibrahim’s talk was followed by a panel discussion that was open to all attendees.

Miral Brinjy, a prominent Egyptian protestor, blogger and TV-news producer, was one of the contributors to the panel discussion. Brinjy described Ibrahim’s talk as an “intellectual treat.”

“It’s extremely interesting to see the difference between Islamists in Tunisia and Islamists here,” Brinjy added.

Barbara Ibrahim, director of AUC’s John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement and Prof. Ibrahim’s wife, was also present at the panel discussion.

“I have heard him [Ibrahim] speak hundreds of times and I always feel that he is at his best when there is a mix of students and academics,” she explained. “Today’s talk was no exception. I am glad to see him back at AUC.”