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New leaders after the "Arab Spring".

The "Arab Spring" wave of 2011 has swept away some Arab leaders, put some others in trouble and alarmed the rest prompting them to take steps toward political and economic reforms. It also produced new leaders and enthusiastic activists to pursue the change for a better, democratic and more comfortable life. The following are some of the profiles:

Head of the Syrian National Council (SNC) Burhan Ghalioun

Throughout the past ten-months which has witnessed unprecedented popular protests in Syria, a number of anti-Assad regime figures emerged, among them Burhan Ghalioun (1945-) who is currently the head of the Syrian National Council (SNC) which was announced in Ankara in Oct. 2011, the pan-Arab daily ASHARQ AL AWSAT reported on Dec. 27. Ghalioun, who hails from the Syrian city of Homs, has been known as "fiercely" anti-Assad for more than 30 years, and more so since the Syrian uprising broke out. He has became well known among the young Syrian protesters following his regular appearance on satellite television stations and his harsh criticisms against the Baath regime which is currently led by President Bashar al-Assad.

ASHARQ AL AWSAT said that Ghalioun's writings, which are published on his own website, or posted on his Facebook page, are written in a style that is not redundant and does not contain abusive language. His writings, the paper said, "are driven by reason which does not seek to incite any group against another and this is what made many Syrian protesters elect him to head the SNC." Ghalioun is one of many renowned secularist authors and is a Professor of Political Sociology at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Syrian Activist Ammar al-Qurabi

Syrian activist Ammar al-Qurabi (1975- ) is currently the head of the National Organization for Human Rights and the chief of the executive council of the Conference for Change in Syria which convened on May 31, 2011 to June 2 in the Turkish city of Antalya, according to the daily. Although he studied dentistry at Aleppo's University, his interest in human rights issues has made him one of the most prominent defenders of human rights in Syria, ASHARQ AL AWSAT added. Qurabi has published a number of articles that touch on human rights issues in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

The Syrian activist has sought to shed light on human rights violations in the Arab Republic of Syria, and disclose the truth behind what has been going in the country, which has led to many troubles with the Syrian security apparatus, said the daily. In 2003, the Syrian judicial authorities sentenced him to three months in jail after he was blamed for "establishing the information committee for supporting 14 political prisoners who had been tried at military courts." However, Qurabi did not serve the whole prison term as the president granted him general amnesty, according to ASHARQ AL AWSAT.

Despite this, Qurabi continues to face difficulties generated by the Syrian regime. Since the Syrian uprising in mid-March 2011, Qurabi has become a prominent human rights activist seeking to reveal "accurate information regarding what has been happening on the ground in Syria," the daily said. Qurabi has unveiled human rights violations in Syria and highlighted the campaigns launched by the Syrian regime to suppress anti-Assad protesters. The Antalya conference called in its final statement on Assad to "immediately abandon authority." In the recent past he also joined a number of other conferences and visited many countries in an attempt to convince international officials to support the Syrian revolution and stop backing Assad.

Rachid Ghannouchi: Leader of the Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda

"Today, I return to my country and to the Arab world," was the first statement issued by Rachid Ghannouchi (1941- ), an Islamist thinker and leader of the Tunisian Ennahda party, upon his return to Tunisia on February 30, 2011 following the triumph of the Jasmine Revolution, ASHARQ AL AWSAT reported. Ghannouchi, who had spent 22 years in exile in London, returned after former Tunisian President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali resigned on January 14, following the popular uprising that swept the country. Ghannouchi was able to embrace his country once again and continue what he started years ago in Tunisia.

Ghannouchi moved to France in 1960 after receiving a university degree in Philosophy in Syria, and continued his studies at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. During that time, Ghannouchi joined in activities organized by Islamist students and by the end of 1969 returned to Tunisia with an Islamic plan seeking reform. However, it was not easy for him to fulfil his objectives due to the troubles he faced from the ruling system which was led at time by Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba. In 1979, Ghannouchi, along with his partner, Abdul Fatah Morou [sic] tried to establlish the "Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya" along the same lines as the Muslim Brotherhood. However, due to this initiative, Ghannouchi was sentenced in 1981 to 11 years in prison, but served only 4 out of the 11 years before he was granted amnesty. Nevertheless, in 1987, he was later arrested and sentenced to life, but he was released following a coup d'etat against Bourguiba.

In 1989 the "Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya" was reborn as the Ennahda party in an attempt to avoid problems especially in light of the presence of a law at time which banned parties founded on religion. However, the new Ennahda party faced much suppression, which led Ghannouchi to leave Tunisia for Algeria and later for Britain where he lived as a political refugee from 1991 until the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia last year. Since his return on January 30, Ghannouchi has been emphasizing that his Ennahda group is a political and moderate party similar to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey.

Monsef Al Marzouki: Current Tunisian President

A year ago, Monsef Al Marzouki (1945- ) was merely a member of Tunisia's opposition living in exile. However, the Arab Spring which swept the region in 2011, turned the overthrown president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali into a president living in exile and Marzouki into Tunisia's new leader after being elected on Dec. 21 for this position. Marzouki is due to serve as president of Tunisia for one year until a new constitution is laid down, ASHARQ AL AWSAT reported.

In 1974, Marzouki travelled to France where he stayed for 15 years during which he finished his medical studies. However, he returned back to his homeland and became a professor and researcher at the University of Tunis, as well as establishing the African Network for Prevention of Child Abuse which includes 20 African counties. In March 1994, Marzouki was arrested for he challenging incumbent President Ben Ali in presidential elections. He was released four months later due an international campaign that called for his release in which even former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, intervened in support of Marzouki's release. Marzouki, continued to face much pressure from Ben Ali's regime and in Dec. 2001 he left Tunisia to live in exile in France where he maintained his political activities. In October 2006, he called for adopting all peaceful means of resistance to enforce rights and regain freedom. Marzouki returned to Tunisia on January 18, 2011.
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Title Annotation:PROFILES
Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Jan 13, 2012
Previous Article:Islamists sweep into power.
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