“Engage with the opposition movements in Egypt”, Walid Phares advises MEPs
Dr. Phares is also co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism (TAG). He emphasised the need to engage with civil society groups as a priority in both Egypt and Tunisia. He said that the Copts and secular Egyptians are the largest democratic bloc in the country and he urged MEPs to invite them to Brussels and begin the process of engagement.
Dr. Phares said that the role of young bloggers in the popular movements that are sweeping across the North African/Middle Eastern region should not be underestimated. He advised MEPs to reach out to them in addition to political opposition groups. He said that there are many ways for the European Parliament and various interest groups to work with young bloggers, including engaging on a forum-to-forum or NGO-to-NGO level. Bloggers have been instrumental in many of the most recent demonstrations in countries in the region, including, critically, in the post-election protests in Iran in 2009.
Dr. Phares said the US Congress is planning to engage with liberal Tunisians and Egyptians, seculars, minorities and young bloggers to brief its committees in the coming months. He underlined the importance of the need for support to be given to grassroots activists, both individuals and organizations, that are engaged in activities on the ground that empower young liberal Muslims within European societies so that they can speak on behalf of the silent majority. He referred to one such programme that EFD has initiated at the end of 2009 working with young European Muslims who are involved in working part or full time with young people in a number of different EU member states on integration, citizenship, access to education and other issues. It is critical to engage with such activists, Dr Phares said, because they are often isolated and alone. EFD's Liberal Muslim Empowerment programme connects these young activists with one another as well as with European and national politicians (further information on the programme can be found here).
Much of what is currently taking place in the countries of north Africa was predicted by Dr Phares in his book "The Coming Revolution: the Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East", published in December 2010. EFD will be undertaking a book tour with Dr Phares in a number of European capitals in Spring 2011. Please consult our website in the coming weeks for details.