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MLK Comic Book Helped Inspire Arab Spring

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This nearly half-century old comic book about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s involvement in a bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. has inspired Arab Spring protesters.
American Islamic Congress
This nearly half-century old comic book about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s involvement in a bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. has inspired Arab Spring protesters.

A 50-year old comic book is receiving renewed interest in the D.C. area, thanks to the upcoming dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial, and recent events in the Middle East.

Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress says the book, called Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, brought a message of non-violent resistance to the Middle East. That message was especially important in Egypt, where protesters gathered in February in Cairo's Tahrir Square to call for an end to the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak.

"It has a huge influence," Al-Suwaij says of the comic book. "I've seen it many times with our young activists -- holding it in Tahrir Square during the demonstrations to get rid of Mubarak and during the revolution."

The text uses a comic book format to tell the story of the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., and the start of the civil rights movement. Although the more bloody revolution currently going on in Libya is counter to the strategy of the non-violent movement, Al-Suwaij says there is a direct connection between all people who seek justice and the legacy of the rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

"I see it as the torch that's been handed over from Gandhi to Dr. King and now from Dr. King to the Arab people," she says.

The book was published in English in 1958, and has now been translated into Arab and Farsi.

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