Posted by: baworldtraveler | May 24, 2011

How Quickly Should Egypt Hold Elections? Get a Pulse on the Arab World with the Doha Debates.

Armchair Travel:
While channel surfing this weekend I caught the airing of the Doha Debates. This is the second time I have caught them.They are held eight times a year.

The debate this weekend was to debate whether or not Egyptian elections should be held quickly or not as they begin their journey toward democracy. What I most liked about the debates was the ability of the moderator to play devils advocate as points were given for each side. He forced viewpoints to be more clearly explained, clarified and defended. It was especially interesting to watch because one of the participants was a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood. Good arguments were given by both sides. At the end of the debate, the majority of the audience (by vote) had though it best to not have elections quickly.

It was refreshing to be able to tune into a show where the views of regular people could be heard firsthand instead of getting an accounting of viewpoint from broadcast commentators on the news. This vehicle enables Arabs to express oppositional views without violence, where points for and against a controversial issue are able to be heard.

If you haven’t listened to any of their debates – please check them out.

For your reference, the following information is from the Doha Debates website:

“Televised eight times a year by BBC World News, the Debates are based on a centuries-old format, refined by the famous Oxford Union. They focus on a single, controversial motion, with two speakers for and against. Once they have outlined their arguments, each speaker is questioned by the chairman and the discussion is then opened up to the audience for argument and a final electronic vote.

The 350-strong audiences are drawn mainly from Qatar’s student body and come from all over the Arab and Islamic worlds. In several debates they have adopted radical and unexpected positions.”

“The Doha Debates are a unique venture in the Arab world, providing a battleground for conflicting opinions and arguments about the major political topics of the region.

While governments around the world tighten restrictions on press freedom, the Doha Debates openly dissect the vital issues of the Middle East in front of its people and on global TV.

For the first time in their life, many young Arabs are having their say on key political questions – challenging politicians and experts face to face.

They engage in time-honoured rivalry – where the only weapons are words.

They practice the art of peaceful disagreement: understanding and respecting different views.

It’s a new reality.

A new way forward.”


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