The future of the Arab Spring is "unpredictable," and, indeed, hopes for democracy in the region could be derailed if the political situation becomes too divisive, says a prominent Muslim intellectual. "It is a very difficult reality we have now in these countries (Egypt and Tunisia)," says Tariq Ramadan. "The polarization . could in fact stop the democratic process itself."

Ramadan, a Swiss-born academic widely known in Europe for his arguments on behalf of the Muslim presence in the West, made his remarks in a lecture late last week at the Museum of Civilization. The lecture, entitled The Arab Spring and the West, was sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, and attracted about 400 people.

Describing himself as "cautiously optimistic" about what Arab Spring might produce, Ramadan was adamant that those leading the uprisings, whether in Egypt and Tunisia or other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, genuinely want to establish regimes that embody values Westerners find appealing; that is, regimes based on the values of freedom, democracy, universal suffrage, individual rights and justice for all.

Read the complete original version of this item...