North African Hope

Amr El-Abyad.

Can North Africa be the magic number that augurs a better future for the Middle East? Though on the fringe of the Islamic world, the regions of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were interconnected with the flourishing Andalusian culture and had centers of learning akin to universities that produced vibrant Sufi streams, jurisprudence and classic gems in history and medicine.

The Fatimid dynasty in Egypt of North African background ushered in the first arts of distinctively Islamic character. The region was also a beacon of universalism where Arabs and Amazigh lived side by side, with ruling dynasties alternating from both groups, a phenomenon which despite the linguistic differences have somehow given the region a unique character: partly Arab, partly Amazigh and partly Mediterranean/Greco-Roman. Muslims and Jews coexisted for centuries in relative harmony. They still do, by the way, in Morocco.

Following centuries of deterioration with the decline of the Islamic civilization…

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