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June 02, 2023
By Bassam Michael Madany

A couple years before the Arab Spring began in Tunisiai and spread to other Arab countries, a group of Arab intellectuals met in Kuwait to launch an Enlightenment Movement throughout the Arab world.

To accomplish their goal, they started a website “kwtanweer” whereby reformist Arab intellectuals posted their views in articles. I began viewing the articles in 2006; for some unknown reason the website disappeared in 2009. I downloaded 118 articles and book reviews; some of which I translated and posted on my websites. The term Tanweer is Arabic for Enlightenment. (An archived version of the website appears to be corrupted with malware.)

Another Arabic-language website was launched in 2012, Al-Awan, a term denoting a ripe time, or it’s time for action. Several Arab authors contributed to this website that served as a Journal. It began in 2012 and stopped, without notice, in 2020. I have 29 articles downloaded from this website in my files. (The following URL is an archived edition of Al-Awan

Some serious events have taken place following the disappearance of these websites, depriving Arab readers from knowing the views of seasoned authors and writers on current issues in the Middle East and elsewhere.

As an example of the value of Internet Forums, I share this report posted by an attendee of the meeting at the Cultural Center in Kuwait City:

“I spent two days enjoying the discussions on important topics at the Kuwaiti Cultural Center discussing the Age of the Enlightenment in Europe. We learned how Europeans were liberated from a mindset that had kept them captive to supernatural beliefs. That enabled them to progress in several areas of life.

“At present, young Kuwaiti intellectuals are very concerned about the subject as they live within a traditional society that’s transitioning into Modernity? They are keenly aware that the Europeans, prior to the Enlightenment, had gone through difficult times, occasioned by sectarian religious wars. European intellectuals called for the secularisation of society and the end of the Church’s involvement in the affairs of the State.

“What took place during the sixteenth century in Europe is happening nowadays in the Arab world. The rise of violence, terrorism, and the censorship of speech is a daily experience. Sectarian conflicts have flared up in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon.

“To deal with these conflicts, certain members of our societies point to the European Enlightenment as a place where we can find answers for the solution of our nagging dilemmas. At the meeting in the Cultural Center, we were privileged to listen to a ‘literary symphony’ given by Dr. Muhammad Arkoun. He took us on a tour of the sources of intellectual thought the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates and the Muslim philosophers and historians like Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Rushd to remind us of a past that encouraged intellectual freedoms.

“We applaud the efforts members of the Center of Dialogue and Culture whose untiring efforts to organize these meetings, and hope that more like these will take place in the future and helping to revive the Kuwaiti intellectual life.”

i The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in Tunisia in response to corruption and economic stagnation.[1][2] From Tunisia, the protests then spread to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

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