The Middle East Uprising: Why now? What next?

Date: Mid-March 2011, 6:45pm (for a 7pm start) to 8:30pm

Venue: Old Broadcasting House, 148 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN.

Speaker: Karl Sharro


Download PDF of transcript of Karl Sharro's talk


Karl Sharro's opening remarks (18:58)

Karl's responses to first round of questions (8:02)

Karl's responses to second round of questions (10:27)

Karl's responses to third round of questions (12:05)

Karl's responses to fourth round of questions  (9:39)

Karl's closing remarks (7:26)



The events in Egypt have come as a surprise to most, with even President Obama questioning US intelligence agencies’ failure to predict the uprisings in the Arab world. The drive behind the January 25 revolt is a genuinely popular democratic movement, but its outcome is still unclear. Who are the main players determining events – the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, young protesters, workers, the elite? And how should we characterise what Twitter calls #Jan25 in the absence of obvious leadership of the movement?

The uprising seems also to put paid to the idea that democracy is exclusively Western, and not a universal aspiration. Yet the reaction from Western elites has been ambivalent at best: can Egyptians bring about a ‘stable democracy’? Fears about an Islamist takeover are voiced as much by Westerners as by President Mubarak. What do we make of calls from foreign ministries for an ‘orderly transition’, especially in light of Western powers’ history in the region? What does the revolt mean for the balance of power in the region, and for American hegemony?



The Egyptian uprising: on the universal aspiration for freedom, by Karl Sharro, 4 February 2011

Why Tunis, Why Cairo?, by Issandr El Amrani, London Review of Books, February 2011

The Egyptian uprising: ‘why now?’ and ‘what next?’, by Brendan O’Neill, Spiked-Online, 8 February 2011

Egypt’s Bumbling Brotherhood, by Scott Atran, The New York Times, 2 February 2011

Middle East protests bigger than oil, by Daniel Ben-Ami, 28 February 2011

A revolt for whose benefit? by Kenan Malik, Expressen, 10 February 2011


Leeds Salon on Facebook

Follow theleedssalon on Twitter

Sign up to our mailing list


The Leeds Salon is a judging partner of the sixth form Debating Matters competition

The Tetley and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for central and south Leeds

The HFoI and The Leeds Salon are partners in school debate for north Leeds


Leeds Salon is a member of the Amazon Affiliate Programme. When you follow this link, we receive a small percentage of anything you spend in that visit. It costs you no extra but is a big help to us!

Leeds Debate Links

Arts Society Leeds

Café Psychologique

Café Scientifique (Chapel Allerton)

Café Scientifique (Headingley)

FORUM 2000

Headingley Festival of Ideas

Headingley LitFest

Leeds Library Salon

Leeds Phil & Lit Society

Leeds Pint of Science

Taking Soundings

Talking Allowed In Leeds: PiPs

Think Headingley: PiPs


National Debate Links

Salon Aberystwyth

Birmingham Salon

East Midlands Salon

Exeter Salon

Liverpool Salon

London Legal Salon

Manchester Salon

Academy of Ideas

Debating Matters

Manifesto Club


The Great Debate



Global Debate Links

Berlin Salon

Dublin Salon

Zurich Salon


Donations gratefully received