Since capturing Tahrir square almost two years ago the liberals have conducted series of affirming cultural events, established a broad range civic media, participated actively in the public debate and forwarded well processed policy initiatives. Unfortunately they did not have the means or organization to do as their new ideological enemies, work close to the people, from Cairo's alleys to the Egyptian countryside, based on medical care, education and God. Together the liberals and religious groups made Mubarak leave power. In the new landscape they constitute fronts that are becoming harsher.

Cato Litangen, Head of Mimeta

The liberal democrats may not have gained popular support for their values, but they have certainly contributed to rising skepticism against the system and criticism of the president among the Egyptian people.  Now they are realizing that they are in opposition, and must work systematically and long term on the streets in order to win people's trust.

So far the liberal movement has been in front towards two main camps, the remains of Mubarak's regime and the Brotherhood’s dark shades of future. They have established alliances and proposed major reforms of policy areas and public management, but without results in any other way than by the endless demonstrations we know.

Second round of presidential elections were boycotted by these activists, who for many is held up as the core revolution squad. The battle for power was lost. The remaining choice was between plague and cholera, relics or dark men.

Under the referendum just before Christmas, however, many returned to the polling stations. It was held in two rounds, with no observers, obvious fraud and queues that made even the most diehard democrat to turn back. They saw the election as a comedy, but still voted. The alternative was resignation, carried forward by a definitive mistrust of Mohamed Morsis ambition to appear as president for a whole nation.

Now they see that their revolution is given away to an ideological dark side, with financial support from Saudi Arabia. This is another western ally, which differs radically from the former authoritarian regime, also supported by the west. The former one was about the powers of economy and violence. This new one plays the game of ideological oppression.

It is somehow paradoxical that the movements´ conception of a just society still is derived from the ideas a western world is advocating. The paradox is reinforced by the fact that the western presence is reduced to the invisible, while the regional powers have moved in.

The explanation may be that the liberal democracy movement is barricaded by nations where politics and God are intertwined, like Iran and Saudi, and secular states balancing the religious pressures, like Turkey and Israel. Such a situation however makes them more in need for allies outside their regional context and the more disappointed when support is absent.

This disappointment escalates to anger by the international communities’ handling of the ongoing violence in Syria. The movement is well connected in the region, and they are actively organizing support in a span from communication to relief. The expressions from the media activists in the small northern Syrian village Kafanbel are shared opinions within the movement.

West has become the beast without any other moral than securing its own tail. It contributes to this conception when western authorities states that by now the situation is too bewildering to interfere, but by the time of history the western model will gain position. It is legitimate by the liberal movement to ask for how long the western public will tolerate such inactive arguments from their leaders.

There is an ideological battle going on. – If we are to succeed, we have to be present with the means this battle actually requires. We must now, as our adversaries, provide medical aid, social programs, and art and education schemes. This is just as important as the creation of more sustainable opposition alliances in the capital's political life; it is said from liberals in Cairo.

The liberal democracy and the secular state is a desire, a program for their political movement. We leave their hopes once more by pushing the strangest political alliances ahead of us. We abandon a generation of freedom-seeking people if we do not support them in their work for the society they will create, and the battle now stands from Cairo's alleys to the Syrian refugee camps.

Cato Litangen

Posted
AuthorC Litangen
When working with culture and development, we are often confronted by issues related to the intrinsic value of art. Are we using art to prevent conflict, export our nations' masters, communicate social issues, open doors for our businesses, or to make peace. Is the last point our reason for inviting Palestinian artists to perform with an Israely counterpart on Norwegian stages? If so - are we looting the independence of the artistic expressions?
Posted
AuthorCato Litangen
By: Mike van Graan The inevitable conflicts that arise out of the struggle for resources and power, play themselves out in the cultural arena, or take on a cultural dimension with culture being appropriated as a mobilising force within that struggle. Culture is then both the site and the means of struggle, with the arts and the media – with their embedded worldviews, values, beliefs and ideas – reinforcing or challenging dominant cultural – and power - positions.
Posted
AuthorCato Litangen


It is now 20 years since the well-known “Dakar Expedition” that brought together for the first time a significant sector of the ANC leadership and about 60 prominent public figures from inside South Africa. It is also 50 years since Ghana became the first African state to obtain independence from a colonial power. It is 50 years since the first intervention by United Nations “Blue Helmets” in an African conflict. What are the salient lessons to be learnt from those events after all these years? How far have we come since then? How do we perceive of the next decades in Africa? These are the questions that will be addressed at Goree Institute in beginning of August. The output, a horizon of aspirations, will be part of the ongoing Imagine Africa process

Posted
AuthorCato Litangen

Breyten BreytenbachThe founding father of Imagine Africa, Breyten Breytenbach, will be on Norwegian soil for his first time the 26th June. He is invited by Strømme Foundation for the Imagine Africa campaign. Breyten is booked for several duties. "Speaking the languages we don't understand" - about life in exile - "The islands of wind" - about the African Islands of special political importance - are two of the lectures we are looking forward to. Breytenbach will also do the formal opening of Internasjonalt Marked, celebrating cultural diversity - and the opening of the Imagine Africa campaign in Norway at the 29th.

Posted
AuthorCato Litangen