The British riots or the British version of the Arab spring?








There gonna be “Burning and looting tonight” as used to put it Bob Marley in his song Get Up, Stand Up. It seems that for the last ten months some countries in the Maghreb region and the Middle East have successfully tried to put into acts this same message. The Arab Revolution or as some others tend to call it the Arab Spring also gained the support of most Western countries. These latter in some cases even urged and directly supported the revolutionaries or rather the rebels as it is under such name that they have become known world wide.


“It is time for regime change!” most Western countries were calling the Arab leaders, contemplating the financial opportunities that such reality could occasion for their own collapsing economy. But that reaction of course was before realising how excellent traveller the Arab Spring -just like the Arab Phone in its own time- was. As a specialist in British cultural studies, I was contacted this week by some French media who wanted me to describe and comment on the spreading revolts over the UK. I later heard that my 15 minutes testimony -not being conform to the idea they wanted to convey- was not going to be taken into consideration. Robin D’Angelo, a young journalist from being just an other product of the French racist society, had simply decided not to mention or use my what he considered “disturbing analysis”.  Let’s make it clear, the British riots had nothing to do with what France knew in 2005. The reasons for the riots in Britain were not racial or ethnic discrimminations as it was the case in France in 2005.

A narrow study of the situation in the UK proves that those revolting and rioting were doing so because they had the feeling of being the victims of deepening social injustices. Britain like most of the Western world is stricken with a devastating financial and debt crisis that leaves the poor and deprived powerless and less likely to cope with an ever growing consumption society. The haves and the haves not, such is the difference in the UK; with the particularity that unlike what is the case in France, poverty is not “racialised” or “ethnicised” as the case of the three Asians killed by rioters while attempting to protect their businesses in Birmingham proves it.

Yes, the British riots look more like a revolt against social injustices; a British version of the Arab spring, some would say. But, unlike what is the case with the Arab revolution, no media or institution seems to be willing to see in it more than unjustified forms of rebellion and unrest. Why is it then, that when it comes to make one’s voice heard in the developing world, we the Western world in general tend to support complete change through chaos, while at home we reject any form of change claim that could destabilise our general system and economy? The same attitude seems to be observed when it comes to southern countries that have their policy and whole institutions dictated by our western countries. I do not hide the fact that in my understanding of the British uprising movement, it would have been more logical for those who used to support the idea of regime change in the Arab world to support the idea of system change in the case of UK.


To the French politicians reading these few lines, I also want them to bear in mind that anything Arabic or Arab moves quickly, quietly and has no frontier. To make it clear: the Arab spring may knock at our doors sooner than expected.


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