Speaker lectures on unrest in North Africa, Middle East


LIBYA

A man kisses a frightened child as they sit on the gun of a damaged armored vehicle on the outskirts of Benghazi, Libya on Monday. The fall of Ajdabiya to Moammar Gadhafi's forces Saturday triggered a wholesale exodus of Gadhafi opponents from Benghazi, which had become the rebel capital in eastern Libya. But when French fighter jets bombed Gadhafi tanks here and the U.S. and Great Britain followed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and bomber attacks on Gadhafi's anti-aircraft defenses outside Tripoli, the rebels flooded back. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Gérard Prunier said a revolution is nothing more than ordinary people who would rather die than go on living the way they are.

Prunier, a French historian and academic who specializes in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, came to Central Michigan University Monday evening to discuss revolutions in Algeria, Libya, Bahrain and more in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

Prunier spoke to about 100 people about topics ranging from Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi's reign and how some countries have no revolutions underway while within others there is “poverty in the midst of plenty.”

“In Egypt, about 70 percent of the population lives on $2 a day,” Prunier said. “At the same time, everybody has television and they can watch ‘Desperate Housewives.’ (And) they think everybody in America has a mansion and six cars.”

Prunier said when people constantly live on only a couple of dollars, they begin to get irritated with those in higher positions.

“You think somebody is taking you for a fool and it is actually true,” he said.

Prunier spoke about separate causes of democratic uprising in certain countries, including the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi which sparked revolts in Tunisia and the Shiite-Sunni divide in Bahrain that has caused conflict.

“All troubles basically come from political issues,” Prunier said.

Prunier has been in the presence of many Middle Eastern and African leaders including Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who he said walks like “RoboCop” because of a failed assassination attempt that resulted in six bullet wounds and multiple doses of morphine a day for the Libyan leader.

Washington senior Randall Batzer has looked forward to hearing Prunier speak for a while and said the event was informative.

“He spoke on some really important things that are happening right now,” Batzer said. “Most people don’t really have any knowledge (about it) aside from what they see in the media which is a complete misrepresentation of what is going on in the Middle East and the North African region.”

Pamela Gates, College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences dean, said Prunier covered a wide selection of topics while maintaining listener interest.

“I thought it went marvelously,” Gates said. “I think his wealth of knowledge was phenomenal and he kept people engaged.”

Germany freshman Maria Gerullis also enjoyed the speech, and said it educated listeners on many separate conflicts rather than any one area.

“It was a fantastic speech with a very broad view on the area,” Gerullis said. “It wasn’t just news about Libya, it was more on the whole picture in the Middle East and Africa.”


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