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January 27 , 2010

Generation Revolution

On the Front Line Between Tradition and Change in the Middle East


As westerners watched the uprisings ignite on their TV and computer screens, many realised for the first time that the young people leading them seemed much 'like us'. They wanted democratic government – and they wore Levis and Nikes, ate at KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut and used Twitter and Facebook. The most visible were university graduates fluent in English. But it was not long before less familiar characteristics began to emerge. Most were increasingly devoted to religion as a guide to all aspects of life, from private to public. Many held strongly anti-western views. Some dreamed of creating an entirely Islamic society.

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Why are educated, tech-savvy young Arabs increasingly hostile to the west? Why is conservative Islam booming on campuses and among young professionals? Who are the religious scholars, online gurus and billionaire businessmen influencing their beliefs? And how do we understand people who may watch the same TV shows and eat the same fast food as us, but whose values and choices can seem so unlike ours?

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