Middle Eastern Politics

Dr. Juan Cole, a professor of history from the University of Michigan, speaks to an audience on youth involvement in Middle Eastern politics in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom on Thursday night.

The Middle East was the topic of the night as Juan Cole spoke to a crowd of students and faculty about the region’s  politics and youth movements.

Cole, a scholar, historian and well-known blogger of Informed Comment, addressed an audience of about 50 people on Thursday night in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

Featured on the Colbert Report, he was hosted by various groups, including the Arab Students’ Association and the International Center. 

It was in hopes of giving interested students an opportunity to hear his insights on the complicated world of Middle Eastern politics and the role young people play.

He also said that young people are typically “more literate, increasingly urban, and less ‘religiously observant’ than their parents.”

Sara Rifai, a 22-year-old UF biochemistry senior, said Cole’s thoughts on youth influence “and how those people were able to make a difference through Facebook” stuck out to her the most out of the rest of his talk.

Cole used Egypt as an example for the effectiveness of today’s Arab youth in bringing about change. 

After Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s leader, fled, younger residents were — unlike in the past — “almost unanimously” in favor of a democratic regime.

Cole said he hopes students and colleagues take notice that “this generation of young Arabs is significantly different from their parents.”

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 1/23/2015 under the headline “Juan Cole talks Middle East politics, youth Thursday in Reitz ballroom"]