Prepare to be intrigued and amazed by the world at the edges of our human landscape, the places we like to forget about – the seemingly endless desert wastelands, the rural poverty, the chaotic urbanisation and more. Intriguingly, these places create a living landscape where Muslims and non-Muslims co-exist in close proximity, often unbeknownst to us.
The natives are not exactly camera-shy. Films and live link-ups from around the region have been capturing the moment civil uprisings provoke violent responses from pro-government militias.
One would normally expect democracy to emerge from hibernation at such a time, but climate change is producing unexpected results. Why, even in Europe, democracy is receding as national governments, formerly mandated by, and answerable to, their national populations, are being stripped of the power to control taxation and spending.
How will Tunisians get on following the first truly free elections since they were granted independence from France in 1956? How will they deter predators? Will the emergence of the Islamist Ennahda party give cause for concern?
As Hamas conducts an elaborate courtship of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, what are the implications for those who anticipated a secular democracy in the post-Mubarak era? From despair to where?
And what’s happening in Libya, where the fledgling interim government reveals a partiality for sharia, the very antithesis of the West’s concept of personal liberty?
As the marathon event reaches its climax, the situation in Syria seems to be coming to a head. Can the country climb out of its tragedy and embrace a serious new constitution? Will Gaddafi’s grisly demise influence things or will Assad prove a tougher nut to crack?
It’s been a bumper season for uprisings. As we witness the first elections following the Arab Spring, is life really changing for the better in the Middle East and North Africa or is hope destined to die in the summertime?