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The Democracy Activist Who Became a Suicide Bomber – WSJ

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An idealistic young Egyptian who helped lead the Tahrir Square protests died three years later in Iraq as an Islamic State jihadist.

“Five years ago, Ahmad Darrawi was one of the idealistic young Egyptians whose bravery stirred world-wide admiration. In 2011, he stood among the protest vanguard in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and in the months afterward he often appeared on TV, outlining reforms for Egypt’s brutal and corrupt police. In the fall of 2011, he ran for parliament as an independent. His campaign ads showed a smiling, clean-shaven man in a gray suit under the slogan “Dignity and Security.” He was 32.

Three years later, Darrawi blew himself up on the battlefields of Iraq, where he was fighting as a loyal soldier of Islamic State, according to the terrorist group.

How did it happen? How did a hopeful, principled young man from a middle-class family turn into a coldblooded suicide bomber? It is hard to separate that question from the Arab world’s broader descent over the past five years: from nonviolence to mass murder, from proclamations of tolerance and civic idealism to the savagery of Islamic State.

The gap between those ideals is so vast that any attempt to link them can seem like madness. But for Darrawi and others like him—in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and more—the road from democracy to Islamic State wasn’t so strange…”

Source: The Democracy Activist Who Became a Suicide Bomber – WSJ

When it comes to democracy, Egyptians hate the player but Tunisians hate the game – The Washington Post

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The Arab uprisings had a surprisingly small effect on attitudes of ordinary citizens towards democracy, likely because the uprisings were not really about democracy in the first place.

Source: When it comes to democracy, Egyptians hate the player but Tunisians hate the game – The Washington Post

Many hoped the protests associated with the Arab uprisings would unleash a democratic wave in the region, sweeping out autocrats who had withheld political voice from generations of Arabs. Yet rather than producing liberalized polities, with the possible exception of Tunisia, the uprisings primarily led to either devastating civil conflict or the resurgence of authoritarian regimes.

How have these events affected how Arab publics think about democracy? Has the nearly universal failure of the uprisings to yield democracy lead citizens to give up on democracy as a system of governance? My forthcoming article in the Journal of Democracy, argues that the uprisings had a surprisingly small effect on attitudes of ordinary citizens toward democracy — likely because the uprisings were not really about democracy in the first place. However, it also finds some notable shifts in public opinion, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia.

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