Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


The Man Behind the Arab Spring

Serbian activist Srdja Popovic’s successful blueprint for non-violent protest

Print Email
Srđa Popović at TEDxKraków 2011(Ela Żubrowska/TEDxKraków)

Senior writer Liel Leibovitz has a profile of Srdja Popovic today in the Atlantic, explaining how the 39-year-old Serbian activist—who as a student worked to oust Slobodan Milošević—has actively laid the groundwork, through seminars and widely-disseminated guides, for successful protests in Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon and, most recently, Egypt. Many of the young Egyptians who assembled in Tahrir Square had attended a 2009 training session held by Popovic’s organization, CANVAS.

Leibovitz writes:

Still, for all his method’s success, Popovic feels that those who should be paying the most attention—academics, politicians, journalists—instead continue to view politics largely as a game played by governments and decided by war. “Nobody, from very prominent political analysts to the world’s intelligence services, could find their own nose when the Arab Spring started. It is always this same old narrative: ‘It happened in Serbia by accident. It happened in Georgia by accident. It happened in Tunisia by accident. But it will never happen in Egypt.’ And this is the mantra we keep hearing—until it happens.”

The Revolutionist
[The Atlantic]
Related: Generation X [Tablet Magazine]
Earlier: Crisis in Cairo
Why Egypt Can Handle Democracy

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

“Behind the Arab Spring?” I thought Arabs were behind the Arab Spring. We’re already rushing out of the gate with conspiracy theories worthy of Mel Gibson. This is ridiculous.

Bill Pearlman says:

Lara Logan would have an interesting opinion on this.

Only the usual clueless mainstream media used, and continue to use the phrase ‘arab spring’. For anyone who has lived in the Middle East it was obvious the only beneficiaries of these uprisings would be the Islamists, the Moslem brotherhood and the Salafists. So let’s call it what it is, an Islamist spring.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

The Man Behind the Arab Spring

Serbian activist Srdja Popovic’s successful blueprint for non-violent protest

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.