WEBINAR: Is COVID-19 pandemic strengthening authoritarianism in the Arab States? With Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat
June 17, 2020



Date: Saturday, 4th July 2020
Time: 3PM MYT | 10AM TRT |


Organized by: Islamic Renaissance Front


Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/is-covid-19-pandemic-strengthening-authoritarianism-in-the-arab-states-tickets-109935953396


*The Zoom link for the Webinar will be sent to your email on Saturday, 4th July at 10AM.


Around the world, governments have taken great strides to tackle the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic. However, there have been worrying signs that this pandemic is increasing authoritarianism and weakening the rule of law in some countries. We have witnessed that when democratic institutions like the free press and independent judiciary were undermined, and the rights of the people to protest or to engage in monitoring the government is limited; corruption thrived. Somehow or rather, this pandemic has offered the corrupt and authoritarian leaders the power of distracting the people and reducing the oversight.

Meanwhile many governments in the Middle-East have upgraded their surveillance capabilities under the pretext of combating the virus pandemic. The states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia – have also upgraded their form of authoritarianism in the wake of the pandemic. They have exploited the virus threat to bolster their own survival strategy and to manage their population. Policies that undermine civil liberties were enacted to perpetuate their current political design that generated no protest from their population. This was done under the guise of forced quarantine to save lives. This pretext somehow helps to construct new ways of regime maintenance and security.

The fact remains that the Arab states were torn apart by this virus and it acts as an acid-test on how governments manage the crisis and their resilience. And the question remains whether these Arab states are enacting measures in ensuring information is not suppressed or manipulated, or natural resources are spent appropriately on ailing infrastructures even before the crisis starts, or deal with the spread of the virus adequately, or instead, preparing themselves for the backlash from their citizens later if they are not? This Webinar will look into these issues and will try to answer these questions among many others.


About the Speaker

Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat earned her BA (Honors), MA (Honors) and PhD in Political Science from Cairo University. She was a teaching staff and faculty member 1987-2017 before she moved to Istanbul/Turkey to work as an assistant Professor at Ibn Haldun University. She teaches political theory and urban politics, as well as Middle East studies. She was during her career a visiting fellow at many Universities worldwide, including Oxford University, Berekeley , Georgetown, Maastricht and London School of Economics. Dr. Ezzat  widely published in both English and Arabic on subjects related to Islam,women and politics as well as on citizenship, global democracy, global civil society and Islamic epistemology. Her publications includes the following books :“The Political Imagination of Islamists” and “Towards a New Civility” (2015), Islam, the Human Self and the Universe (Ed.) 2018, and People of the South: A Sociological Study of Halayeb and Shalateen Area (Ed.) 2020.



300-315PM:    Introduction by the Moderator, Ehsan Shahwahid
315-400PM:    Presentation by Dr Heba Raouf Ezzat
400-455PM:    Discussion
455-500PM:    Concluding remarks by the Moderator, Ehsan Shahwahid

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Updated version: 2.39-20231022