Arab Spring Dreams

The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice
from North Africa to Iran

Edited by Sohrab Ahmari & Nasser Weddady

Foreword by Goria Steinem

From a gay man secretly mourning his lover’s suicide in Morocco to a young woman denied schooling because of religious discrimination in Iran, Arab Spring Dreams collects a wide-range of stories from young Middle Easterners about life under the region’s oppressive regimes. Covering a wide range of experiences, including pre-marital sex, the lack of educational opportunities, teenage marriage, and the fight for political freedom, they highlight how severe laws and cultural mores snuff out liberty and stifle growth. Beautifully written and profoundly moving, these stories present a decisive call for change at a crucial point in the evolution of the Middle East.

“Arab Spring Dreams” is born out of AIC’s Annual “Dream Deferred Essay Contest“, an initiative to lend a voice to those who struggle for civil rights and liberty in the Middle East.



“This book is the essential portrait of a generation, an intimate explanation of the forces and frustrations that are shaping the Middle East. If you care about women’s rights, religious freedom, or basic human dignity, then these are stories you need to hear.”
– Lara Setrakian, Foreign Correspondent, ABC News/Bloomberg

“A slim volume that successfully presents ‘treasures, surprises, and rewards.”
Kirkus Reviews 

“You are now holding an exceptional book. The essays collected here are a particularly important testimony and close to my heart as they are written by young courageous people who dare to dream of the things their parents never dreamt of. The book clearly demonstrates  that no matter where we live or what religion we follow, certain fundamental values are universal.”
 Lech Walesa; Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the Former President of Poland

“Immediate and raw, the Essays in this collection provide glimpses of daily life in countries where civil rights do not exist.”
Publishers Weekly 

“This is a wonderful book, and a stirring testament to the truth that the desire for freedom and democracy transcends the boundaries of nationalities, religion, ethnicity, race and gender.”
Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran 


About the Authors

Nasser Weddady is the Civil Rights Outreach Director of the American Islamic Congress. He helped design and administer the “Dream Deferred” essay contest, and has helped lead several high-profile campaigns to free imprisoned dissidents in North Africa, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and beyond.


Sohrab Ahmari
 is an Iranian-American journalist. His columns, feature stories, and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Boston GlobeThe New Republic, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others.


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