The motto of the World Social Forum in Tunis was “dignity”, a term broadly used during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and beyond, a term everybody can relate to, gobally.
Of course, the term dignity can also easily be emptied of any political or legal implication and people use it in very different and sometimes oppositional ways. Conservative religious groups refer to it as well as nationalists (“national dignity”), liberals and leftists.
At the gathering for the opening march of the World Social Forum, an activist from Chad approached me and my microphone. I told him I was especially interested in the topic of “dignity” which he liked, so I asked what it meant to him:
“Dignity means the honour of the person. It’s respect, it’s a value in itself. Everybody shall be able to live dignified. This right must be respected. And this has brought us here to Tunis, to show the whole world that dignity is a value that must be respected.”
I asked how it can be secured. “To secure dignity, you need a strong moblization of civil society, of the press, as well as of all those who are fighting for more rights across the world.”
Far from being a clear concept or political idea, I still think that a thorough research into “dignity” can help understand the current uprisings in the region. It can be transformed into a concrete politically idea as well.
Therefore, I was interviewing different people in Tunis and Cairo on the very topic, be it human rights lawyers, sociologists, activists or people who were humiliated themselves.
I am still researching for a long “dignity” radio piece, so any ideas and inputs are welcome.
For German speakers: you can listen to a short telephone interview I gave on Deutschlandradio Kultur about the World Social Forum and its motto “dignity” here: