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DARS Media Roundup (July-August 2015)

[#YouStink protest, Beirut, 29 August 2015. Image by Joelle Hatem, via Flickr] [#YouStink protest, Beirut, 29 August 2015. Image by Joelle Hatem, via Flickr]

[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance and Subversion in the Arab world and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the DARS Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each monthly roundup to] 

News & Commentary

Lebanon Activists Occupy Ministry as Campaign Escalates, by AFP
Lebanese police moved to eject protesters who occupied part of the environment ministry on 1 September, in an escalation of a campaign against the country's trash crisis and a stagnant political class. The forcible evacuation began some six hours after several dozen protesters entered the ministry to demand the resignation of Environment Minister Mohamed Mashnuq. The sit-in was an unexpected escalation of a campaign that began over a trash crisis but has evolved into a broad-based movement against government impotence and corruption.

Lebanese Activists Launch Movement Calling for Downfall of Government, by Mada Masr
The newly formed group have dubbed themselves “The people demand,” an offshoot of the well-known statement “The people demand the fall of the regime,” which resonated through protests in the Arab world since 2011. A garbage collection crisis triggered the protest movement, which demands the resignation of the government, under the slogan “You Stink.” The marches have escalated into violent clashes with police forces, resulting in injuries and arrests.

As #YouStink Gains Momentum, Lebanese Doubtful Over Change, by Nicolas Lupo
Despite agreeing with demonstrators’ demands such as twenty-four-hour electricity and an end to water cuts, many Lebanese doubt that change is possible. The country has been ruled by the same political elite for years, many of them warlords during the civil war.

Lebanese Protesters Fire Back at “Sexist” Egyptian Observers, by Mada Masr
After the recent protests broke out in Lebanon, several Egyptian commentators have directed their analysis toward the beauty of the Lebanese women who have taken to the street, and in particular their revealing clothing. Lebanese activists have fired back, decrying such comments as sexist and unhelpful to the movement.

A Force Divided: Interpreting the Police Protests, by Maha Abdelrahman
Protests by low-ranking police officers reached a crescendo of discontent this summer in Egypt. In this piece, Abdelrahman analyses the protests and their nature, while taking into consideration the role and the positioning of the police in the Egyptian political and social structures.

Morocco/Western Sahara: Rights Group Legalized, by Human Rights Watch
Moroccan authorities have for the first time allowed a Sahrawi human rights organization, the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Human Rights Abuses Committed by the Moroccan State, fiercely critical of the government to legally register. This advance for freedom of association in Morocco came ten years after the Western Sahara group applied and nine years after a court ruled that the government had unlawfully impeded the group from registering. Morocco should now end all arbitrary obstacles on the activities of the group, including a de facto prohibition of public rallies and sit-ins.

Breaking the Media Blackout in Western Sahara, by Karlos Zurutuza
Equipe Media is a group of Sahrawi volunteers struggling to break the media blackout enforced by Rabat over Western Sahara. According to one of the group’s leaders “there are no news agencies based here and foreign journalists are denied access, and even deported if caught inside.” Spanish journalist Luís de Vega was expelled in 2010 and declared persona non grata from the Moroccan authorities. “The Western Sahara issue is among the most sensitive issues for journalists in Morocco. Those of us who dare to tackle it inevitably face the consequences,” he said.

Israel’s Military Intelligence Monitoring Dozens of BDS Groups Around the World, by Gili Cohen
According to Haaretz, the Israel Defense Forces routinely gathers information on foreign, left-wing organizations that it believes they are working to delegitimize the State of Israel. The Military Intelligence Research Division's Delegitimization Department was established after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010. The department focuses on studying the activities of anti-Israeli groups operating overseas, including some that promote sanctions on Israel.

Gaza Attach Pushed US Electrical Workers’ Union to Back Israel Boycott, by Ali Abunimah
The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America—known as UE—voted this month to back the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel. This makes it only the second national union in the United States, and the largest so far, to take such a step.

What Politicizing Paris Plage Taught Us About Tel Aviv, Nabila Ramdani
Paris turns a bank of the River Seine into an urban beach every August. This year’s theme was the Israeli seaside city of Tel Aviv. The event drew a lot of enthusiasm from Jews living in Paris, as well as strong criticism from far-left and pro-Palestinian organization who staged a protest and interrupted the party.

Activists Disrupt “Tel Aviv Beach Party” in Berlin, by Ali Abunimah
Activists in Berlin blockaded the entrance to a “Tel Aviv beach party” in the Kreuzberg district on 30 August. “We have chosen to disrupt the ‘Tel Aviv beach party’ since we must offer resistance to Zionism’s acts of propaganda,” the activists who took part in the protest say in a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada. Israeli propaganda, or hasbara, can take many forms, the statement notes, including “cultural events promoting Israel’s ‘liberal culture’ or ‘gay-friendliness,’ also termed whitewashing and pinkwashing.”

For Syrian Activist Group, Resisting the Islamic State Is Not About Making War, by Gert Van Langendonck
A group of nonviolent activists called "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently" was formed in April of last year, at a time when the Islamic State did not dominate world news, hence the "silently" in its name. One of the group's tactics is to post anti-Islamic State pamphlets overnight on walls in Raqqa and elsewhere, while filming the act and posting the result online. "Of course, nobody wants to die for a poster," says one member, "but it is one of the few weapons we have, and it annoys the hell out of Daash. Humor is another method. "Daash rules through fear," says one activist. "If we can make people laugh at them we break through the fear barrier."

“A Beast That Took a Break and Came Back.” Prison Torture in Egypt, by Lina Attalah
"Torture is associated with moments of political awakening," says Aida Seif al-Dawla, a psychiatrist who has fought for citizens’ rights and dignity since her days as a student activist in the 1970s. “In 2003, around the protests against the US invasion of Iraq, we received torture survivors. The same happened around the Kifaya protests against the regime in 2005, as well as the calls for the independence of the judiciary, up until the revolution. But I haven’t seen anything more violent than what we are witnessing today... The state is not content to refrain from stopping torture. There are laws in place to limit a tortured citizen’s ability to get justice...We won’t stop working on fighting torture, even if they shut down the clinic.”

Morocco Reporter on Hunger Strike in Geneva Should Return Home: Rabat, by AFP
A Moroccan journalist on hunger strike in Geneva, who was previously jailed for insulting the Moroccan king and is now being denied a passport, was told to return home to plead his case. Ali Lmrabet has been on hunger strike outside the UN's Geneva offices since 24 June, when his Moroccan passport expired after months of vain attempts to renew it. Lmrabet maintains that Morocco's refusal to renew his passport aims to block him from moving ahead with his plans to relaunch two satirical publications, after a ten-year-ban on him practicing journalism was lifted in April.

“Fifa Must Tackle Iran’s Ban on Women Watching Football,” by Nasrin Sotoudeh, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay and Gissou Nia
Since 1982, the Islamic Republic has prohibited women from attending football and other sport events. Though such discrimination is a blatant violation of the statutes and guiding principles of Fifa, it has counted the Iran football federation as a member for over thirty years without the slightest reproach. The time has come for the world to call on Fifa, and for Fifa to call on Iran, to put an end to discrimination against women. Strong actions are necessary if Fifa is to remain faithful to its statutes and guiding principles, including its commitment to promote football as a unifying force.

Murray Bookchin and the Kurdish Resistance, by Joris Leverink
Murray Bookchin’s municipalist ideas, once rejected by communists and anarchists alike, have now come to inspire the Kurdish quest for democratic autonomy.

In Gandhi’s Footsteps, by Claudia Mendez
The most prominent advocate of consistent non-violence from Islamic sources is the Syrian scholar Sheikh Jawdat Said. Born in 1931, Said earned a degree from Al- Azhar University in Cairo in 1957. During his time in Egypt he witnessed the escalating tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nasser government. And he also observed how the increasing militancy of the Muslim Brothers gave Nasser a pretext for even more state repression. His most important book, "The Doctrine of the First Son of Adam: The Problem of Violence in the Islamic Action" was published in 1964 and was a direct retort to Sayyid Qutb, one of the founders of militant Islam. Said does not deny that the Koran contains the right to self-defence. Nevertheless the scholar, who is sometimes referred to as the "Arab Gandhi", pleads for a complete abandonment of violence.

In Surprisingly Fine Fettle: the Turkish Election, by Julian Sayarer
The elections of 2015 should be seen as the final act of the Gezi protests. They are testament to the triumph Turkish protesters won. In conversations, the clauses “before Gezi” and “since Gezi” have become commonplace, lingual evidence for the watershed then reached. The recent elections are evidence that grassroots movements can be converted into actions that will force their relevance upon established political structures. Given the high-handed, condescending tone that politicians often take towards these movements, the Turkish elections are of profound significance.

“The Great Gas Robbery:” A Chronicle of Civil Resistance, by Michael Shaeffer Omer-Man
For the past few years a dedicated group of Israeli social activists have been protesting what they, some economists and even a number of members of Knesset have termed “the great gas robbery.” The protests came on the tail end of a wider social protest movement, the lasting and central message of which focused on anger toward the concentration of wealth among a small number of tycoons with close ties to the government and politicians. This photo compilation serves as a chronicle of the civil resistance campaign.


Popular Campaign Aims to Dissolve Religious Parties, by Mai Shams El-Din
A new popular campaign “No to Religious Parties” is collecting signatures to pressure Egyptian authorities to dissolve all religious parties in the country. The group states it is not against religion, but rather against the idea of mixing religion with politics, and the use of religion to achieve political gains.

Eighty Thousand in UK Demand Netanyahu Arrest, by Ali Abunimah
Almost eighty thousand people have signed a petition at the UK Parliament’s website calling for the arrest of the Israeli prime minister when he comes to London for a planned visit next month. If the number of signatures reaches a hundred thousand, then the matter will be debated in parliament, according to the petitions procedure. However, the UK government responded in the website that “under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.”

Shawkan Goes on Hunger Strike to Protest Illegal Detention, by Ester Meerman
Photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid—popularly known as Shawkan—is going on a hunger strike to protest surpassing his maximum pre-trial detention period of two years, the Free Shawkan Campaign announced at a press conference on 30 August.

Activists Launch Campaign Against Forest-Depleting Projects, by Today’s Zaman
Members of the Northern Forests Defense and Istanbul City Defense groups announced a new campaign launched for the purpose of increasing awareness surrounding projects that are depleting the city's remaining northern forestlands at a press conference in Istanbul. The “Be the breath of Istanbul!” campaign particularly targets the controversial third İstanbul airport and third Bosporus bridge projects, which have been criticized heavily by activists and environmentalists for the serious damage the projects are inflicting upon Istanbul's northern forests.


Exhibition: Political Art and Resistance in Turkey, by Ceyda Neurtsch
Protest art from Turkey, covering the period from the 1970s to the present day, was on show at the Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (New Society for Visual Arts) in Berlin until 30 August. But this exhibition was a little bit different in that it did not concern itself only with political resistance in Istanbul, but also with social protest in eastern Turkey. Ceyda Nurtsch took a look at the art on display and talked to the artists and the organisers

Gaza Blues: Hymns of Love, Death and Resistance, by Haidar Eid
In this piece Haidar Eid describes the impact the Israeli attacks on Gaza in July 2014 had on him and how after these events he started singing poems about love, death and resistance. The songs have now been compiled into an album.  

Why I Painted a Rainbow Flag on Israel’s Apartheid Wall, by Khaled Jarrar
Khaled Jarrar explains the meaning behind his rainbow mural “Through the Spectrum” on the Israeli Wall.

Events & Conferences

The Unfinished Project of the Arab Spring: Why “Middle East Exceptionalism” Is Still Strong, 25–27 September 2016, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

The Arab Revolutions: Five Years On, 21–23 January 2016, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Doha, Qatar.

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