UC Berkeley Conference Explores Middle East Violence, Protests

BERKELEY (KCBS) – The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley sponsored a particularly timely conference this week.

“Democracy Rising?” sought to address “the challenges of democracy transition and development in countries emerging from authoritarian regimes,” according to the event website.

The conference, held Sept. 13 and 14, included panelists, scholars and activists. Faculty, students and the public were welcome at the conference as well.

Attendees devoted a portion of their time to the current events overseas: namely, the international protests that have broken out over a U.S.-made, anti-Muslim video.

“It’s going to blow over,” theorized cultural anthropologist Dr. Laurence Michalak, who previously served as Vice Chair of the Center. “It won’t really change things fundamentally.”

He has been closely watching the violent eruptions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen, but points out that U.S. foreign policy has never been particularly popular or welcome in the Middle East.

“It’s also because of cultural differences because they can’t understand that we would allow a movie that makes fun of the religion of one-sixth of the world,” he said.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Still, it seemed reasonable that the violent protests would continue.

“It’s not easy to deal with it,” said Fred Huxley, a consultant on international development who directed a democratization project in Egypt from 2000 – 2003. “And sometimes the results can be tragic, as the case with Ambassador Stevens and the other people who were killed.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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