NEW YORK, March 28, 2012 – Nasser Weddady, Director of Civil Rights Outreach for AIC, addressed members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York at the event titled “Arab Millennials: Technology & Transformation beyond the Arab Spring.” Nasser shared the stage with Lara Setrakian, Bloomberg TV Middle East reporter and ABC special correspondent, who led the network’s on-the-ground coverage of the Egyptian revolution.
The presentation outlined potential impact a new generation of Arab youth will have on the region and the world as they strive for freedom of expression and more open societies, empowered by new technologies and inspired by the Arab Spring of their own making. Nasser has been closely involved with this new generation for years as he had mentored and trained hundreds of young dissidents in the methods of cyber activism. He briefed the Council members on AIC’s ongoing work with the Middle Eastern youth.
“While Arab Spring was a surprise to almost everyone else, we knew it was coming because we had been keeping our fingers on the pulse of the region,” said Weddady to introduce the “Arab Spring Dreams” – an anthology of the essays written by young people of the Middle East in the run-up to the Arab Spring and offering a first-hand, raw and personal account of life under oppressive regimes. The collection is a culmination of AIC’s “Dream Deferred” essay contest launched in 2007 to provide a platform and means of expression to the generation whose voices had long been stifled. Covering a wide range of experiences, including pre-marital sex, the lack of educational opportunities, teenage marriage, homosexuality and the fight for political freedom, the book provides an invaluable insight into aspirations and motivations of the young Middle-Eastern generation.
AIC’s newly launched programs include a groundbreaking initiative “Tune in Tunisia,” which relies on the talents of young Tunisian social entrepreneurs who compete for micro-grants for their projects aiming to build civil society.
“The young generation that ignited the Arab Spring uprisings has not said its last word yet,” Weddady said.