Main Speech Sihem Bensedrine

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening,


Ten years ago the world was shaken by the indiscriminate attacks of 9-11. That traumatized the world and made thousands of people to victims. The official reaction was to counter of the attacks with violence. President Bush declared that the Geneva Convention did not apply and that torture was legal. Under these documents the CIA, on behalf of the United States, kidnapped and detained thousands of suspected “terrorists”, whose only crime was to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Only 14 of those detainees were found to have a close relationship with Al-Qaeda. The Bush administration argued that the right to torture was necessary for national security of the United States. On behalf of his principle he created special courts, not subjected to any law and secret prisons around the world. The state of lawlessness became commonplace for one of the oldest democracies. A security arsenal was set up, violating civil liberties and a security obsession that accompanied the policy stood against the freedom of movement. The primary target of this security policy was mainly Arabs and Muslims suspected of being potential terrorists and preemptively accused of plotting against the security of the West. The prejudice penalized Arabs and Muslims and cultivated hatred. Ten years later, the Arab revolution contradicts this prejudice. Arabs do not like dispute and not all of them are terrorists. And they are able to build democracy.


The democracy does not mean a triumph of Islamism. This fare of Islam was the reason that justified the support to dictators provided by democratic countries. But the longing for freedom of our people was so strong that they overthrew the dictators and gave hope to all marginalized people over the world; hope that freedom is powerful and despotism should not be a fatality. Hope that we can change the world without violence. Hope that the human dignity might and should be the ultimate goal for all policy makers. Today we have the condition for a fair and free dialogue between West and East. Instead of the Clash of Civilizations we must engage in reconciliation between western countries and the Arab world.

Building democracy is a big challenge for us and it takes time. Building trust between You and Us is possible now. If we engage strongly in it I believe we can succeed.

Thank you!