As activists from around the world descended on the Manar campus Wednesday for the World Social Forum (WSF), many gathered at the “Global Square” created for dialogue within the event.
Set in a courtyard under the banner “Global Square, Occupy Tunis,” the initiative aims to provide a space within the WSF where participants can exchange ideas and reflect on the experiences of various social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and Spain’s 15-M movement.
“The Global Square represents different movements regardless of their country of origin,” said Shawn, one of the organizers and a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “What is important is that we are creating an open space where people can define the content. It has to be open, participative, and democratic.”
“We make the container and let people fill it in,” he added.
Those who gathered at the Global Square Wednesday discussed the impact of revolutions on global power dynamics.
“We are here to occupy the place of the birth of freedom, and we are all leaders in the sense we determine our future,’’ said a member from the 15-M movement. A Tunisian participant interjected, calling on fellow Tunisians to become more involved in the country’s democratic transition.
“The revolution is still going on,” Shawn said. “It is not complete until you change the power dynamics. Many Tunisians I have met told me that now we have the freedom to speak, but no one hears us.”
He added that people should not wait passively for the constitution or the new government, whom he says will not bring justice, fair wages, or women’s rights.
“Everywhere in the world, our grievances are aligned,” Shawn said. “What I say to Tunisians is ‘welcome to the world of fake democracy.’ The struggle is not over yet.”
As those in the Global Square debated democratization in Arab Spring countries, other WSF participants chanted and danced to music.
Palestinian folk music was a crowd favorite, with a huge group gathered around the Palestinian tent. Others enjoyed Tunisian bands playing rock and reggae and cheered for encores.
Themes of other WSF workshops taking place Wednesday and today range from the impact of migration on the world to the changes brought about by the Arab Spring.