This year, El Cairo International Film Festival was not very successful for the public was much more interested in the legislative elections. This means that changes are taking place in the country. In fact, we’re witnessing a transformation of the Arab world: the emergence of an autonomous public opinion.
This is the public opinion that drove Syria out of Lebanon, the one that led Hosni Mubarak to hold elections and implement reforms. Iraqis mobilize themselves for elections while confronting terrorists and Palestinians denounce Al Fatah’s corruption by voting for Hamas. Saudi Arabia is also changing thanks to public opinion. According to television critic Ibrahim al-Ariss, what has contributed to the development of that public opinion has been the creation of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya TV stations. There’s no doubt about this. Today, presidents and monarchs realize that they no longer monopolize the influence upon public opinion. Nonetheless, political activists are still humiliated by of those in power.
It must be pointed out that if the Arab public opinion is alive, it’s not only alive for the United States, Europe or Israel, but for itself. This strengthens Hamas, the Muslim Brothers and the religious Shiites in Iraq. The West must understand that, from now on, the leaders of the Arab countries won’t be their only interlocutors.

Daily Star (Lebanon)

There is Arab public opinion, just ask the dictators”, Zvi Bar’el, Daily Star, January 10, 2006.