Thursday, March 31, 2016

Youth and the Coming Political Change in Iraq: Reflections on a Recent Trip to a Country in Transition



Many years ago, Edward Said published a widely cited study, Covering Islam, about the Western media’s coverage of events in Muslim majority societies.  Said, in his usual provocative manner, offered an double entendre.  The book's title not only surveyed the manner in widely the Western media reports on Islam, but also argued that the media actually “cover up” Islam.  As such, it prevents Western populations from obtaining any meaningful comprehension of either Islam as a religion or the societies where the majority population is Muslim.

Current political events in Iraq are likewise suffering from we may call the "Said syndrome."  While we have just witnessed an impressive demonstration of how peaceful protest organized by Iraqi youth has been largely ignored by the Western media.

The role being played by Iraq's large youth demographic - 70% of the population under the age of 30, and 40% under the age of 30 - was many very clear during a recent trip to Iraq.  Thew trip involved teaching a class to Iraqi students on democratization, meeting members of a very impressive youth organization and being the guests of a prominent cleric, Sayyid Jawad al-Khoei, and young students studying at the Dar al-Khoei in al-Najaf al-Ashraf.

To begin with the protests in Baghdad, we have already seen how peaceful protests has forced the resignation of a dysfunctional cabinet, characterized by extensive corruption, and its replacement by a smaller cabinet made up of technocrats committed to social and political reforms.

1 comment:

Saladdin said...

Thanks for writing this, Professor Davis. Indeed, there is an incredible youth movement in Iraq that rejects sectarianism squarely. The fact that those who are involved insist on keeping their protests peaceful is in itself an evident break up with the culture of violence the Baath and political Islam have perpetuated for so long.