Three Myths

The Arab uprisings are far from over and domestic, regional and international factors will continue shaping and reshaping conflicts within Arab states. The uprisings that began with pushing Tunisian autocrat Ben Ali from power in January 2011 have fostered dizzying levels of activism and a deluge of analyses. The changing times are exciting, though scary; the information intriguing, though often misleading.Indeed, much of the current analysis revolves around three myths that fail to hold up under closer scrutiny. Revisiting these myths sheds light on recent changes in the Arab world and on where the region may be heading.Advertisement opens in new windowYouth + Technology = UprisingsArabs and outsiders alike have heralded technologically savvy youth for engineering the uprisings. They argue that young Arabs used Facebook and Twitter to mobilize people as never before. Certainly, youth-led social media played a role in the uprisings, but viewing the uprisings too narrowly in these terms overlooks the breadth and depth of the popular mobilization.Reported Age of Egyptian Protesters in the Midst of Revolution.Many more beside youths poured into the streets expressing longstanding grievances. In June 2012 the Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute, DEDI, and the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, ACPSS, conducted a survey of 1200 Egyptian respondents, above 18 years of age, across 21 governorates excluding border governorates. It found that while youth under the age of 30 were particularly mobilized, they only made up slightly less than half of protesters over age 18. Moreover, Egyptians 40 to 50 years old were highly mobilized during the revolution. Only about 12 percent of this age group claimed they participated in demonstrations before the revolution, while about 20 percent joined the 2011 uprisings.Similarly, a single-minded focus on social networking technology overstates its role. The DEDI-ACPSS survey finds that just 8 percent of the general p



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