Sharat G. Lin Reports from the World Social Forum 2015 in Tunis
Greetings from the World Social Forum 2015 in Tunis.
An estimated 70,000 people from all continents -- but with a high participation from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East -- have gathered at the El-Manar campus of the University of Tunis to discuss alternatives to neoliberalism, free trade, terrorism, global warming, among many other issues. The one uprising of the Arab Spring that has advanced socio-political democracy, even if only a little, has created a space to host the World Social Forum at an otherwise very unsettling time for the region.
The venue gives this WSF / FSM a heavy focus on Northern Africa (Tunisia, Western Sahara, and trans-Mediterranean migrations, but not Algeria, Libya, or Egypt) and the Middle East (especially Palestine, and a little on struggles in Syria, Bahrain, and the Kurdish region). While Tunisian grassroots organizations are many, European NGO money is much in evidence. The WSF is staunchly secular left, yet the Islamic Republic of Iran has a booth here. While U.S. participation is almost invisible, there is a workshop here on "From Ferguson to Palestine".
Most impressive is the sheer magnitude of the organization -- greeters at the airport, taking virtual possession of a major university campus during a break period, hundreds of volontaires, a sea of exhibit tents, an exhibition of political caricatures, free travel on the tram lines, etc.