Non Violence in the Arab World: Does it work?

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Discussion
Today we discussed a quote by Ghandi about nonviolence protest by the Wafd party:


“The British Government cannot stop the Nationalist Party because the party is wise enough not to encourage acts of violence”


Can Non-violence work in the Arab world? Isn’t that why the Arab Spring in Egypt succeeded in throwing out Mubarak and the Syrian Revolution hasn’t succeeded in throwing out As Assad? Can nonviolent protest work in the Arab world? If yes, are there examples of when it has worked? Is Arab society able to have such a thing or are they, as some in class have said, emotionally not ready for such a thing?
  1. abbyhungate says:

    I think that non-violence in the Arab world can work, its just that it hasn’t really yet. The Arab world has such a long history of violent acts and hardly any examples of non-violent actions. Since violence is usually what people think will get results, having a non-violent act I feel like would be shut down or become irrelevant, because it hasn’t achieved any great results so far. Even if there was a non-violent act, it would probably be met with a violent response. Non-violent activists in other areas such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King became famous for a reason, because so many people supported them and joined their cause. I think its possible that there hasn’t been an significant non-violent event in the Arab world with a symbolic leader to prove that it can work, and so people generally don’t think it will and result to more violence.

    • Daniel A. Leal says:

      Abby I think your on to something. I think what the Arab world is missing is a leader that is able to inspire and struggle for change, rather than against someone else, e.g. Israel or/and the U.S. In order for true non-violence to occur a person who is unrelenting in his denial of violence must rise up and people must follow her or him. I do not think it is a matter of everyone except the Arabs being able to undertake non-violent protests, it is more a of the Arabs not having had that leader yet. Many decades of fighting make it even harder for such a leader to be born and molded under such context, however leaders like Ghandi and Malcolm X prove that it can be done, it is a matter of having a greater vision for a better future and the love to get there.

  2. Juliana Kaldany says:

    Non-violence is a wise approach according to Gandhi. Not everything Gandhi says is correct and applies to everyone and everything. In this particular case I disagree with Gandhi.
    Violence triggers a sense of fear in the communities it is practiced in. No revolution can occur without violence. No such thing could ever happen anywhere. There is always at least one act of violence that makes the people feel the need to do something and change the way things are, and this leads them to resolving in non-violence. If a significant change must occur in a nation, violence will prevail.

  3. Rashed says:

    We have a common saying in Yemen, “Sha3b Sameel.” In English this means “People of the stick.” What that basically means is that nothing ever changes without violence. True, Yemen is a generally a more violent country (2nd most armed country in the world), but it is a general rule in the Arab world that only violence is the 100% assured way to get results, by either the government or the protesters. If you cut off the head of a snake it dies, if you feed it a rat it will sleep and rest until it is hungry again. Only relatively modern history shows non violent protest actually working, and they are usually very rare and always recorded and remembered because of that. I don’t remember the protests in New York City about stopping the war in Palestine working, and those are countries which supposedly are the epitome of freedom and giving the people what they want. If you protested in Arabia in camps and merely rallied, I doubt anything would be accomplished.

    • Mallak Al Husban says:

      I don’t agree with the first part that says that Arabs are ” people of sticks” because it all goes back to the government, if the government is willing to listen to people’s complaints and fulfill their requests then people will stop using violence?

  4. Nizar says:

    I think non-violent approach can work in the middle east however it will take many years to achieve. until most of the people are well educated and when the people’s basic needs are satisfied non violent approach to conflicts will not work. because for the time being, governments do not consider a situation as a problem unless the protestors attract the governments attention with violence.

  5. Leylandin Kurdi says:

    Violence in the Arab culture is misrepresented by barbaric and ignorant group of terrorists like ISIS for example. This sends a negative image to the rest of the world about Arabs where westerners would generalize that all Arabs are violent and aggressive. In the Arab culture, there are some cultural heritages that were passed down by our ancestors such as tribalism among clans who come from different regions. This is one reason that could somewhat explain the violence existing in the Middle East. However, I think that non-violence could actually work if it was taught to the next generations. The fact that violence isn’t a likable trait in all the religions found in the Middle East would also be another reason supporting the fact that non-violence can work in the Arab world.

  6. salehqadi says:

    If we’re talking about the case of Mubarak and Al-Asaad, then it is the proof how nonviolence DOES NOT work in the Middle East. In Mubarak’s case, Mubarak used violence against his people but the people’s protests were nonviolence (with SOME small violence acts that would bring the attention to them) they just took Maydan el Tahreer as a place to stay their days and nights. Mubarak is the one who used violence against his people, who won? the people did.. the side with no violence. In Syria’s case, it is more of a civil war where basically everyone is against everyone and violence is used by both sides the people and the president and no one had won it yet, he is still in position.

  7. salehqadi says:

    I think Arab people are aware of what violence acts would bring them. In case of Jordan, a Jordanian soldier was asked about why wouldn’t the Jordanian army do what the Egyptian or the Syrian armies did and go kill their people. His response was: “Who would I shoot? my brother or my cousin???” A point for tribalism 😉 . I think people are aware that violence acts are not something that should be praised. If you look at the protests in Jordan, they’re all nonviolence. At the beggining there was some violence from the people but when they knew they were not getting anywhere with it and the army will not kill them and do what other armies did so they just stopped.
    Muslim Brotherhood were the one who started violence acts in Jordan but then the Jordanians burned their places after going for protests against them to tell them that their violence acts would not work here…

  8. Long explanation short, using non-violence in the Middle East would be like whispering at a rave – being there to take all the noise but remaining unheard.

  9. Hamza Ali says:

    I personally believe it depends on the circumstances, that peaceful protest may not always work. There will always be situations where violent acts are necessary to catch the attention you desire. Non-violence can indeed work in the Middle East but only to a certain extent, for the examples mentioned in the prompt to occur violence is occasionally necessary.

  10. farah sinokrot says:

    non-violence can work in the middle east, but in my opinion violence is what brings people together. violence makes unity in Mubarak’s case there was violence so all Muslims, Christians and all other religions worded together as Egyptians to over throw him because they believed in a better country for themselves. Hence, a revolution could start violently because when people don’t have anything then they have nothing to loose which will drive them in a violent way and this is the problem in the middle east there is a lot of poverty and no one has something to loose and that is when chaos happens. in Syria’s case Syrians aren’t united because of out side interference and the different nations and ethnicity involved.

  11. I believe that non-violence work can work in the Arab countries,and peaceful protests were seen in many different Arab countries . The thing about Arab countries though is that many of the peaceful demonstrations and gatherings in the Arab world is facing repression by the policemen and the government. Many Arab governments use violence force to stop an assembly and that leads us to ask two questions:
    1. How is the relationship between the people and the police,or army ?The first question leads us to ask the second question: how to restructure the security of the system and change the mentality of the government in dealing with the citizens.

  12. This picture shows christian people protecting some Muslims people while praying from the policemen to during a peaceful protest .

  13. yasminemalas says:

    The thing about the Middle East is that many of its countries still hasn’t achieved true independence. And the last I checked, no country in the world has established their independence in a non-violent approach, especially if we’re going to look at the United States.

    If we want to reach a point of non-violence in the Middle East, we first have to get to a place where it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to be violent. Because the way it looks right now, most countries don’t even have an option.

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