Initiative for the Arab spring

Series of debates in Vienna at the Arab Austrian Cultural Center (OKAZ)
Wilhelm Langthaler
On September 16 the first public debate on the democratic movements in the Arab world took place in Vienna. The renowned literary critic and long-time activist of the anti-Assad Syrian Communist Party/Politburo (Riad Turk group) Soubhi Hadidi, who is now teaching at the Sorbonne in Paris, explained his view on the unfolding uprising in Syria.
Subhi Hadidi addressing the Viennese audience Sept 16, 2011

Kick-off debate: Syria

Hadidi expressed full support for the popular movement and explained that its direction is genuinely democratic. It is moving against sectarian strife provoked by the regime that is to say the intifada is secular and liberal in the best sense of the word and is as well anti-imperialist as it is struggling against a western-imposed regional order. Subhi Hadidi categorically refused any foreign military or state intervention. This is why he goes against all attempts in exile to form representations which in the last instance only serve to provide a partner and thus legitimacy for western intervention. A real revolutionary council can – according to Hadidi – only be built inside the country which will take time. He voiced great optimism that the regime of Assad would fall sooner or later under the pressure of the popular masses and not of the west.


The next meeting under the title “Sectarianism as weapon of the regime” will be held on October 14 with Dr. Said Al-Shihabi, exiled leader of the “Movement Free Bahrain”. Since the 70s the movement has been struggling for democratic rights. In 2011 it joined the “Coalition for the republic”. After the suppression of the protests by the Bahraini regime last March, Shahibi was sentenced in absence to live-long imprisonment.


November 19 will be the turn of Mohamed Waked from Egypt. As a member of the “Revolutionary Socialists” he has been one of the founders of the “National front for justice and freedom” unifying several revolutionary and anti-imperialist groups within the democratic movement. Waked was one of the leaders of the campaign against the constitutional referendum held by the military regime with support of the Muslim Brotherhood in order to curb the momentum towards a constituent assembly based on the popular movement.


The last debate of this year will be between a representative of the Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (PCOT) and the Islamic movement Enahda of the Maghreb country on December 2.

Further lectures and debates will follow in 2012, hosting further recognised representatives of the democracy movement in other parts of the Arab region.

The Viennese debates are taking place in cooperation with the Anti-imperialist Camp. Meanwhile the Anti-imperialist Camp in co-operation with components of the Syrian community in Italy is preparing an international forum on the democratic movement and against foreign intervention for December 17 in Rome. Again Soubhi Hadidi alongside other Syrian exponents is scheduled to speak.