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DARS Media Roundup (November 2015)

[Tahrir is not a square, Berlin. Image by Aesthetics of Crisis, via Flickr.] [Tahrir is not a square, Berlin. Image by Aesthetics of Crisis, 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 & Comments 

Syrian Activists Are Repairing The Fabric of Civil Society, Even As It Comes Undone, by Hania Mourtada
Since the popular uprising erupted, there has been an extraordinary move to reclaim the field of dissident cultural production initiated by civil activists. The nascent freedom movement that burst onto the scene in liberated towns in 2011 rid itself of all ambiguity and symbolism in the manner it now criticises power. Syrians no longer need to resort to metaphorical and opaque language in order to subvert or mock authority. This new movement is driven by a newfound dignity and a shared sense of citizenship. While the mainstream media chooses to fixate on military developments, Syrian civil society is building a network of resistance in the shadows.  

Social Resistance to IS in Syria: The Case of Daraa, by Rim Turkmani
In Syria, areas that maintained a strong sense of social cohesion despite the 'new war' situation are far more resistant to the infiltration of both JAN and ISIL. The article explores the special case of the area of Daraa.

Police Arrest Unemployed Postgraduates Protesting Near Tahrir Square, by Mada Masr
On Sunday 29 November, police forcefully dispersed a protest by hundreds of unemployed postgraduates as they approached Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, making several arrests. For several months, unemployed Masters and PhD holders have been demanding jobs in the public sector, holding occasional protests outside the Cabinet building and meeting with government officials to present their demands.

Social Media Is Still Powerful in Egypt, by Mina Fayek
When the 'Arab Spring' began in 2011, the role social media played was undeniable. Activists turned to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to share news and updates on the on-going clashes and demonstrations nationwide, as their regimes tried to silence and discredit them through state media and allied private outlets. The internet was a helpful tool aiding the organization of protests and acting as an alternative means of communication, but the causes of these uprisings were already deeply rooted in Arab societies. Nonetheless, two years ago when the Egyptian uprising faced a setback, supporters of the regime claimed that activists could no longer change facts on the ground, because their ideas only existed virtually. Recent events refute such claims.

From Non-Violent Resistance to Non-Violent Resilience, by Leena Al Olaimy
Resilience requires diversity — not only to weather a storm or disturbance, but also to cultivate and build new solutions. In this article, Al Olaimy tries to answer the question: how can we go from violent or even non-violent resistance to non-violent resilience? 

No Revolution This Year: Sudan’s October Revolution And The Arab Spring, by Arwa Elsanosi
On 21 October 1964, the people of Sudan took to the streets in mass demonstrations and strikes that brought the military regime led by General Ibrahim Abbud to an end; this year marks the fifity-first anniversary of the 'October Revolution'. When the wave of revolutions flooded the Arab region in 2011, the Sudanese people rose up in protest against military rule once again. This time it was against the Revolutionary Command Council of National Salvation, led by Omar Al-Bashir, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1981. Even though Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, the governing elites continue to pursue their lavish life styles, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Yet there has been a general lack of involvement by political opposition parties in the protests. 

“There Is Hope:” Lebanon’s Protests And The Future of The Anti-Corruption Movement, by Oliver Berthoud
As Lebanon’s youth continue to demonstrate, there has been limited support from the general population. This most recent protest movement started in July with the “Trash Crisis” that left Beirut’s streets lined with rotting trash. Since then the movement’s goals have evolved: in addition to finding a solution to the trash issue they are demanding a comprehensive social security system, an end to government corruption and an effective policy for looking after refugees. Although the protest movement is made up of many different groups and opinions, there is a strong commonality between them; most are young and middle class.

Who Stinks? Social Protests And Political Change in Lebanon, by Carnegie Middle East Center
This summer’s “You Stink” demonstrations in Lebanon began as a response to the garbage crisis that was overwhelming the country. The movement attracted Lebanese people from different regions, economic backgrounds, and sects to the common cause. For many, “You Stink” presented an opportunity to revive a civic movement against rampant corruption in the country. Yet in the past few weeks, the movement seems to have lost its momentum. The Carnegie Middle East Center brought together a panel of civil society, legal, and media experts to analyze the larger context of this movement and explore its potential for realizing political and social change. 

Lebanese Independence Day: Protests Instead of Parades, by Y. R.
Demonstrations organized by syndicates, political and civil society groups replaced Sunday 22 November the traditional Independence Day military march, which was not held for the second consecutive year due to the continued presidential void. Protesters in all the demonstrations carried and shouted several slogans, ranging from the call for electing a new president to issues such as the protracting garbage crisis, corruption, social security, the rent law and the rights of disabled persons. 


Syria’s Rebellious Women, by Rachel Shabi
Filmed over the past eighteen months in rebel-held, war-ravaged Aleppo, northern Syria, the documentary film series Syria’s Rebellious Women, show women who have been on the front lines alongside men in this war-torn city, or are responsible for securing food and vital supplies, or stitching up the wounded in field hospitals and making sure that schools open and kids get to them.

The Sound And The Furry: How Syria’s Rappers, Rockers And Writers Fought Back, by Robin Yassin-Kassab
In the first heady weeks of the Arab spring, commentators made much of the role played by social media, but far more significant was the carnivalesque explosion of popular culture in revolutionary public spaces. Protests in Syria against Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship were far from grim affairs. Despite the ever-present risk of bullets, Syrians expressed their hopes for dignity and rights through slogans, graffiti, cartoons, dances and songs. Several of these artists and their work are presented in this article.

Events & Conferences 

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

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