Good Wishes from Abroad, Media Interest for New Leadership
Dr wolfgang gerhardt Following the successful Cairo meetings, international liberal leaders congratulated the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) and expressed their support for the newly elected President Mr. Mohamed Tamaldou of Morocco. In a congratulatory message, The Lord Alderdice, President of Liberal International, the world federation of liberal parties, said he was looking forward to an intensive cooperation in the future. Speaking on behalf of "the liberals from all parts of the world", Lord Alderdice congratulated the NAL-leaders and said that he was inspired by the recent progress in creating the Arab liberal network. Meanwhile, the President of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF), Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, who is a member of the Federal German Parliament in Berlin, sent a congratulatory note to the newly elected leader of NAL and said that the liberal Foundation is "committed to promote the cooperation of liberal parties in the Arab world". Several member NAL-member parties participate in Liberal International activities and the FNF has supported the network through educative programs and consultancies. Lord Alderdice
Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, President of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty Lord Alderdice, President of Liberal International

Numerous journalists from Egypt and other Arab countries attended the Cairo activities. On the sidelines of the conference, the newly elected NAL-leaders gave interviews to Television channels and newspaper journalists. In a special program, Nile TV International, the government controlled Egyptian English-language TV-station, interviewed NAL-Executive Board Member Wael Nanwara on the objectives of the Network and the political environment for liberal politics in the Arab world. Several political websites picked up the news and reported about the ground breaking NAL activities in Cairo.

Liberal leaders, Experts Discuss Role of Opposition Parties at Cairo Conference
Senior members of the Network of Arab Liberals actively participated in a conference in Cairo on July 12, 2008 titled "The Role of Liberal Opposition Parties in the Arab World: Challenges and Perspectives". The one-day event was co-sponsored by the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF). Political experts from Egypt and politicians from NAL member countries made presentations and discussed the constitutional, legal, political and social framework of liberal politics in the Arab world. In their papers, the speakers referred to numerous political and legal restrictions and constraints that prevent the liberal forces from coming to power. Speakers from Morocco and Lebanon stated that in their countries the situation for liberal parties is better than in other Arab nations and that their governments are not as restrictive as elsewhere in the region.
In the picture : Adressing the Conference is Mr. Mohamed Moustafa Sherdy, MP, Wafd Party, together with Ambassador Nagui El Ghatrifi (Al Ghad Party) and Dr. Mustafa El Fiky, MP, National Democratic Party

Presenters also argued that in many Arab countries the people "on the road" are unaware of liberal principles and values or do not fully understand them. Said Dr. Mohamed Sherdy, Member of Parliament for the Egyptian Wafd Party: "We need political education. If you talk to the Egyptians about liberalism they will ask what it means." Political liberalism is also weakened by internal divisions: In several Arab countries more than one political party supporting liberal positions exist. It was argued that in some cases authoritarian regimes are fanning internal divisiveness in order to weaken the liberal forces.

In the final discussion, the participants agreed to two conclusions: First, liberalism as a political concept and program needs to be redefined in an Arab context so that it may become conceivable for a majority of Arabs "in the street". Second – to quote Beshir Abd El Fattah from the Egyptian Democracy magazine – "the citizens have to understand that liberalism has a direct impact on their lives".

Read the detailed report by Beshir Abd El Fatah.

The Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) held its first General Assembly in Cairo on July 12, 2008. During this meeting, the delegates adopted the by-laws and elected a new leadership. The delegates unanimously elected Mohamed Tamaldou from Union Constitutionnelle (Morocco) as President of NAL.

Furthermore, the delegates elected the following members to the Executive Board:

Margrit Azer, Democratic Front Party, Wael Nawara, Ghad Party (both Egypt), Monder Thabet, Parti Social Liberal (Tunisia), Dr. Camile Chamoun, National Liberal Party (Lebanon) and Mohamed Arslan (Jordan).

The General Assembly also decided that the Secretariat would be in Cairo following an invitation by the Egyptian Democratic Front Party. Meanwhile the legal ramification would be examined before this decision is fully formalized. The General Assembly discussed the plan of activities for the second half of the year. A workshop dealing with the role of women in Arab political parties is tentatively planned to take place in Tunisia in October 2008 in cooperation with the Parti Social Liberal. The General Assembly also took note of the activities for young Arab liberal activists in Egypt and discussed plans to have a further activity for young Liberals tentatively also in October 2008 and in Lebanon.

Senior members of the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) are visiting Cairo from July 11 to 14 2008 to participate in the conference "The Role of Liberal Opposition Parties in the Arab World: Challenges and Prospects" and attend the first General Assembly of the Network.

The conference aims at discussing the role of liberal opposition parties in the Arab World. Speakers will deal with the constitutional, legal, and political framework of political parties in the participating Arab Countries. Delegates from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, in addition to the hosting country Egypt have been invited.

On this occasion, the political leaders from the liberal member parties will hold the first General Assembly on July 12, 2008 during which they are expected to discuss internal organizational matters such as the by-laws, membership issues and the leadership of the group.

The Network of Arab Liberals (NAL) is comprised of Arab liberal parties and activists in the Arab world committed to the principles of freedom, responsibility, pluralism, tolerance, market economy, civil state, and separation of religion from state affairs.

A press conference is scheduled on July 13, 2008 at 7.00 p.m, at the Shepeard Hotel  to inform the members of the media about the results of the General Assembly and the conclusions of the Conference.

Leading members of youth wings of Arab liberal political parties and liberal youth activists from the Arab world assembled in Ain Souchna, Egypt, from May, 3 - 7,  2008 for a workshop titled "Communicating Liberalism: Moderation Training for Multipliers". The activity was cosponsored by the Egyptian NGO Youth Contribution for Social Aid and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF) and brought together, for the first time, young political leaders belonging to member parties of the Network of Arab Liberals (NAL).

The main objective of the workshop was to improve the Arab young liberals’ programmatic knowledge about liberalism and, at the same time, also their facilitation skills. Young liberals from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and host country Egypt attended the workshop.

Following the training at Ain Souchna, the group moved to Cairo for a well attended public debate on "The role of Liberalism in the solution of youth problems". In their talks, the young liberals identified youth unemployment, political disenchantment and lack of political participation as their main common challenges. As possible liberal solutions they proposed market reforms for more growth and development, the opening of the political systems to encourage the youth to get involved and platform based politics to increase the level and quality of political discourse in their respective countries.

The Ain Souchna and Cairo events were the first of their kind to bring together young liberal Arab activists involved in party politics.

First Vice-President of the NAL-member Democratic Front Party (DFP) Dr. Ashraaf Balbaa attended the Cairo forum together with DFP-Secretary General Mrs. Margrit Azer. In attendance at the workshop was also a young member of the Lebanese Moustakbal which is not affiliated with NAL.