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Democracy First in the Arab World Conference, Activists ask US stop Double-Standards

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Prominent Arab figures have called on democratic governments to stop supporting authoritarian regimes in the Arab World, and instead support the peoples’ right to democracy and peaceful transition into democratic governance.

These remarks were made at a press conference held in Washington, D.C. two days ahead of President Biden’s Summit for Democracy”, in which only one Arab country, Iraq, was invited among more than 100 participating countries.

Statements made by the conference speakers emphasized the need for the international community to stand against authoritarianism, and undertake meaningful steps to support human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, called on the United States and other democratic countries, to stop supporting the authoritarian regimes, and prevent anti-democratic states from interfering with nascent democratic governments in the Arab world.

“The Arab people are paying a heavy price for their struggle for democracy”, explained Mr. Marzouki, alluding to the tens of thousands of people who were killed, injured, tortured and jailed in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Egypt, and the millions who have been displaced and continue to suffer from diseases and starvation in refugee camps.

Mrs. Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist noted that it is time for the United States and Europe to stand on the right side of history by supporting the will of the people, rather than supporting dictators. “The long-standing support of dictatorship and totalitarian regimes, in countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt has created the perception among the Arab people that the “West” is colluding with their tyrants. It is shameful that this kind of alliance continue to exist between democratic nations and dictatorship regimes. It is shameful that this alliance continues to undemine democracy!, She added.

Mrs. Karman stated that the US and democratic nations must make a redoubled effort to reexamine the so-called war on terror and to not to allow dictators to use that as a tool against political opponents and the people.

Mrs. Karman explained that the tyranny is the root of all evilness and that includes political and economic corruption, social backwardness, and terrorism. “When freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law prevail, terrorism and violence weakens and disappear because its environment and sources dry up”.

Mrs. Karman urged the U.S. and Europe to act with a great deal of firmness on Iran’s destructive policy in the Middle East region, which threatens the security and stability in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, noting that there is a perception that the West is inclined to tolerate Iran’s behavior and atrocities.

Dr. Ayman Nour, President of the Egyptian National Alliance, delivered a speech read by Dr. Samia Harris, in which he conveyed to President Biden that “there can be no reforms without reformers, and no democracy without democrats.” He noted the lack of proper representation of the 400 million Arabs in the Summit for Democracy despite the heavy price they paid to earn democracy. He called for a constructive dialogue between established democratic nations in the U.S. and Europe and pro-democracy reformists in Arab countries to chart a path toward democracy in Egypt and the Middle East.

Dr, Noor urged the U.S. and Europe to apply pressure on authoritarian regimes to release all political detainees and prisoners of conscience.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Awda, Secretary-General of the Saudi National Gathering Party, recalled the 3rd anniversary of the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He noted that the civil society in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is deprived of the freedom of expressing right and stressed that there can be no stability in the Arab region without democracy.

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