Freedom Riders inspire new generation of Arab protest leaders
by John Blake, articles.cnn.com
May 15th 2011
"So much of what has happened in Egypt is like déjà vu," says Mulholland, who appears on PBS Monday at 9 p.m. in a mesmerizing documentary called "Freedom Riders."
"The pictures that have been in the news have been almost interchangeable with the civil rights movement here years ago," she says about the Egyptian protests that toppled a dictator. "I've seen so many visual parallels that I'm starting to save pictures in a scrapbook."
The Freedom Riders were called communists and outside agitators. As they commemorate the 50th anniversary of their rides this month, another group of people in the Middle East is calling them something else -- inspiration.
Several leaders in the protests sweeping the Middle East say they are using the same nonviolent playbook Freedom Riders and other civil rights activists used years ago to resist oppression.
Dalia Ziada, North Africa director of the American Islamic Congress, a group that promotes interfaith tolerance, says some Egyptian protesters took heart from the disciplined nonviolent resistance activists once displayed during civil rights campaigns like the Freedom Rides.
"It was inspirational," she says. "I realized that no matter how long it takes, nonviolent tactics lead to success in the end. This made me and all my colleagues here in Egypt stand strong in the face of police brutality during revolution time.''
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At first glance, there seems to be little connection between Freedom Riders and the "Arab Spring," a wave of civil uprisings sweeping the Middle East. The series of protests are being driven by people from various ideologies that have nothing to do with nonviolence.
Yet there are signs that the seeds of nonviolent resistance that Freedom Riders and other civil rights activists planted years ago in America are being scattered throughout the Arab Spring.
Original Page: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-15/us/freedom.riders.arab_1_civil-rights-protesters-freedom-rides?_s=PM:US
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