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Africa Middle East

 each for Pakistan is a powerful T idea to believe in, a movement that gives us a sense of community, and a challenge to every young Pakistani to do something extraordinary for this country. This is the beginning of an educational revolution.

— Khadija Bakhtiar M.P.P. ’10, a recent Goldman School alumna, describing the nonprofit she is launching

Democracy movements: what the data debunked The mostly peaceful nature of the democracy movements sweeping North Africa and the Middle East over the past few months may have surprised even savvy observers — but not Berkeley political scientist and regime change expert M. Steven Fish. Fish is the author of Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence, a controversial tome analyzing data from the highly regarded World Values Survey that tapped 100,000 people in some 80 countries. His research indicates that Muslims are no less likely to favor democracy than Christians. Fish believes the West often makes two false assumptions: Muslims are more prone to mass violence and Muslims 16

want rule by religious guides. He says neither is true and that “fears are based on phantom foundations.” “The demonstrations in Egypt went on for 19 days without mass-instigated violence — only state-instigated violence,” says Fish. “I’m not surprised that these demonstrations were largely peaceful. I would have expected it given the data.” Why now in the region? Fish says technology played a significant role, but not solely because it speeds communication. He says greater access to independent journalism that consistently spotlights the corruption of dictators such as Hosni Mubarak helped spark the movements. Says Fish, “An entire generation has spent their lives watching Al Jazeera. They have access to information that their parents only dreamed of.” •

Promise of Berkeley Spring 2011  

Spring 2011 Promise of Berkeley

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