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The People Want: An Interview with Gilbert Achcar

[ Tunisia, 2011: photo by Amine Ghrabi via Flickr: Creative Commons] [ Tunisia, 2011: photo by Amine Ghrabi via Flickr: Creative Commons]

As we are nearing the third anniversary of the Tunisian uprising, which ignited historic upheavals in the Arab world, Professor Gilbert Achcar investigates the social and economic roots of the social explosions in his new book, The People Want: A Radical Exploration of The Arab Uprising. The title of Achcar’s book is based on a slogan that first emerged in Tunisia. It echoes two famous lines by Tunisian poet Abul-Qacem al-Shebbi (1903-34)

If the people want life some day, fate will surely grant their wish

Their Shackles will surely be shattered and their nigh surely vanish

He writes, “ the very fact that the revolutionary wave that arose in Tunisia has swept through the entire Arabic-speaking region shows that its causes are not confined to a mere political dimension. They run deeper. If socioeconomic factors are at the very heart of the Arab uprising, it follows that there are still radical changes to come, which may well bring in their wake new episodes of revolution and counter-revolution.” So what are the major, social and economic factors through which we can understand the dramatic events in the Middle East and North Africa? Have counter-revolutionary forces succeeded in derailing the democratic aspirations of the people? In this interview, Vomena’s Khalil Bendib speaks with professor Achcar about his new book, The People Want: A Radical Exploration if The Arab Uprising.

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