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Special Lecture: North Africa’s Young Civil Society

Plenary / Panel
english language


Journalist and Author, Cairo
Author, Cairo Abstract
- One way of looking at the Arab Spring is that it comprises uprisings against oppressive regimes. A more historically oriented view would see it as the rejection of wide segments of Arabs  especially the tens of millions under 30-years old (the largest demographic block in the region)  of the heritages of failure they inherited.
- The Arab Spring is a transitory period: it will usher in a new stage in the history of the Arab world. This new stage would be a function of the interactions between religiously-oriented social narratives (not only Islamic but also Christian), and groups that aspire for functioning secular and civil states in the Arab world. This interaction is an intellectual struggle on the choices of the massive Arab middle classes. Almost certainly, we will see different scenarios in different parts of the Arab world.
- It is also important to put the Arab Spring in the historical context of the past 200-years in the region. The Arabs experimented with liberalism from the mid 19th to mid 20th century; then with Arab nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s; and over the past 40-years, they adopted a distorted form of liberal capitalism. All three experiments failed. Now, tens of millions of young Arabs are trying to forge new futures for themselves. We will not see repetitions of any of the past three experiments, but new socio-political discourses and worldviews. The beginnings of some of these new ideas are already emerging in modern Arab literature, cinema, as well as in new political ideas that are coming about in different parts of the Arab world.
Filmmaker, New York/Cairo Abstract
The events in Egypt have not only marked a shift in regional politics, but also a completely new understanding of the word  social media . Even though reports that Egypt s revolution was a  Facebook revolution are exaggerated, there is no denying that it would have been extremely difficult to achieve the same results without the help of such tools that were controllable for the government only if they cut off the internet altogether. In post-revolutionary Egypt, social media have taken a new role of political power, giving young Egyptians a strong voice against aged political systems that believe controlling television and radio gives them absolute power.
General Manager, Softec International, Cairo Abstract
While the Egyptian people were united and determined to oust Mubarak, post-revolutionary Egypt quickly turned them apart. Egypt faces one of its most critical phases in its modern history. Opportuntiy and determination to introduce real democracy and universal values are dimming. Too many factors are involved: Clashes of ideologies, the willingness of the Armed Forces, Western interests, pressure from Gulf states, the refusal of the security apparatus to fully re-engage in its responsibilities, questions over Israel's intention to accept Egypt's development towards democracy, and the fading support of the average Egyptian citizen amidst economic downturn. The biggest challenges are yet to come. Egypt is polarized more than ever. A few liberal intellectuals are struggling to put the country on the right track but support is slowly fading away by a community that lacks leadership and civil courage. Members and supporters of the old regime oppose re-structuring of the government system. The revolution is not yet over. The youth within parties and organizations are determined not to give up and are opening dialogue, forming coalitions and pressuring its leaders to keep the focus on Egypt's future.
Ambassador ret.; Author, Vienna Abstract Chair
Gabriele Matzner-Holzer, Austrian, obtained a law degree at the Vienna University and graduated from the Vienna Diplomatic Academy before entering the Austrian diplomatic service in 1971. Her first assignments abroad included Moscow, New York City and Washington DC. In the early eighties she worked as foreign policy expert on the staff of the then Austrian prime minister Bruno Kreisky. Later she represented Austria as Consul General in Berlin and worked as deputy director of the Vienna Diplomatic Academy. Her ambassadorial posts, from 1997-2010, were in Bratislava, Tunis and finally London. Since her retirement in 2010 Gabriele Matzner-Holzer works on the board of several institutions and as a lecturer related to foreign affairs. She authored a number of books and articles and frequently participates in public debates, most recently those relating to the  Arab Spring .


Journalist and Author, Cairo

 Yasmine El Rashidi is a Cairo-based writer and journalist. Formerly a staff reporter and Middle East & GCC Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, she is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the author of the first narrative record of the Egyptian revolution, The Battle for Egypt: Dispatches from the Revolution, published by Random House/NYRB. Her writing has appeared in publications including TIME magazine, The Washington Post, Al-Ahram, Moncole, Newsday, and she has commentated on the region for Al-Jazeera, BBC and NPR.


Author, Cairo

 Tarek Osman, an Egyptian writer, is the author of "Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak" (Yale University Press, 2010). His writings have appeared or been cited widely, including in the Economist, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Boston Globe, the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Cairo Review, OpenDemocracy, among many others. He is a regular commentator on the Arab world for leading international news stations such as the BBC, Al-Jazeera, and CNN, and was the keynote speaker at conferences organised by leading universities and think tanks. Tarek lives in Cairo and London.


Filmmaker, New York/Cairo

2002 Internship, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Cairo
2008 Volunteer, Al Nadeem Center for Treatment of Torture Victims, Cairo
2004-2005 Assistant Director, Arab Radio & Television (ART), Cairo
2004-2005 NYFA Diploma, New York Film Academy, London
2007 "Fusion Arts Exchange Program" on Screenwriting and Film Production, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles
2007 German Filmmaker Andres Veiel, Documentary Workshop
  Game Writer and Creative Director,  Bezra (3D Interactive Online Game), Silverkey Technology
2007 Organizing Committee, Department of Panels and Special Events, Cairo International Film Festival 2007
2009 BA, Political Science, American University in Cairo
2009 BA, Filmmaking, High Institute of Cinema in Cairo, Summa cum Laude with Distinction
2009 Tokyo Documentary Project, The Japan Foundation
2010 Artistic Director/Writer/Filmmaker, Zad Communication & Production llc
2013 Expected Graduation, MFA, Film & TV Production, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts

B.Sc. M.Sc. Nour SHAWKY

General Manager, Softec International, Cairo

2000 Internship, Hödlmayr International, Schwertberg, Austria
2001 German Abitur, Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule, Cairo
2001 Internship, Infineon Technologies, Villach, Austria
2002 Egyptian German Telecommunication Industries, Cairo, Egypt
2004 Vordiplom in Computer Science, Universität Passau
2005 Bachelor of Science (with Excellence) in Computer Science - Highest faculty grade in 2005
2006 Master of Science (with Distinction) in Software Systems Engineering / Financial Stream, University College London, United Kingdom
2006-2007 Teaching Assistant, Computer Science Department, German University in Cairo
2006-2007 Software Engineer/Consultant, Aptec Kiosk Services
2006-2008 Project Manager, GoNow Aviation
 Founding member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party
 Public speaker on politics, economics and social democracy
2008-present Co-Founder & General Manager, Softec International

Political Symposium

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