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DARS Media Roundup (December 2015)

[A Saudi woman casts her ballot in a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah, on 12 December, 2015. Image by scrolleditorial, via Flickr.] [A Saudi woman casts her ballot in a polling station in the coastal city of Jeddah, on 12 December, 2015. Image by scrolleditorial, 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 DARS@jadaliyya.com.]

 

News & Comments

Egypt’s Sisi Warns Against Protests on Anniversary of 2011 Revolt, by Reuters
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned critics not to hold protests on 25 January to mark the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, saying a new revolt risked destroying the country. Opposition groups including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, families of political prisoners, and left-wing activists are calling for mass demonstrations on 25 January -- which marks five years since the start of an eighteen-day uprising that ended autocratic president Hosni Mubarak's thirty-year grip on power.

Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate Protests in Renewed Call for Release of Jailed Journalists, by Ahram Online
Dozens of journalists, activists and family members of jailed journalists held a protest Wednesday 9 December in front of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate in Cairo to call for the release and provision of medical treatment for detained journalists. According to Khaled El-Balshy, the head of the Freedoms Committee, there are currently thirty-two journalists detained and jailed. Around eight of these detainees are in dire need of medical care, El-Balshy told Ahram Online.

The Fascist History of Egypt’s Revolution, by Hesham Shafick
As much as the left were discontented with Mubarak’s abashment of the welfare state, deprivation of the working class, alienation of the intelligentsia, cessation of political space and de-humanisation of citizenship; the far right were no less vexed. Recurrent international interference in Egypt’s sovereignty, desertion of its regional role, degradation of its cultural capital, the rise of a savage police-class, worries over Mubarak’s succession, and the overall feebleness of the state were few among many issues that mobilised the right against Mubarak’s state. On the surface, many issues concerned the left and the right equally; such as corruption, power succession and the lack of state autonomy. However, the two opposing wings were discontented for utterly different reasons.

Fearful of Protests, Egypt Keeps Stadia Closed, by James M. Dorsey
Egyptian law enforcement authorities and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) have extended a ban on spectators attending matches, in a reflection of fears that stadia in Egypt could once more emerge as platforms for anti-government protest. The ban had been in place for much of the last five years. The decision dashed expectations that the ban would be lifted in February to coincide with a new competition season.

Saudi Arabia Holds First Ever Election Open to Women, by Ahram Online
On Saturday 12 December, Saudi Arabia held its first elections open to female voters and candidates, a tentative step towards easing restrictions that are among the world’s tightest on women. More than nine hundred women run for seats on municipal councils, the kingdom's sole elected public chambers. They were up against nearly six thousand men competing for places on two-hundred and eighty-four councils whose powers are restricted to local affairs including responsibility for streets, public gardens and rubbish collection.

Saudi Arabia Elects Its First Female Politicians, by Al Jazeera
At least eighteen women have won seats in Saudi Arabia's municipal polls, the country's first-ever elections open to female voters and candidates. The women who won hail from vastly different parts of the country, ranging from Saudi Arabia's largest city to a small village near Islam's holiest site. Saturday's municipal poll, which was hailed by many as historic, saw a turnout of about forty-seven percent, according to Saudi officials. Women are banned from driving and must cover themselves in public in the conservative kingdom, which was the world's last country to give its women the right to vote.

Analysis: The Value of Women to Vote in Saudi Arabia, by Hala Aldosari
Women's participation was not allowed in the 2011 elections, amid claims of logistical difficulties. The grassroots "Baladi" campaign by women's rights activists to empower women for political participation had been active since 2010.The campaign, however, was ordered shut shortly before the start of the 2015 elections. Nevertheless, this latest round of municipal elections in Saudi Arabia is promising, and not only because of women's participation. New municipal regulations have granted members of local councils wider authorities in reviewing and deciding on issues concerning public health, land allocations, permits and planning. However, procedural complications in the electoral process have hindered effective participation by women.

My Arab Spring: Tunisia’s Revolution Was A Dream, by Lina Ben Mhenni
Lina Ben Mhenni is a prominent blogger and human rights activist in Tunisia. She is against the notion of an Arab Spring, because she thing that each country in the Arab world has its own characteristics; each country led its revolution in its own way. According to Ben Mhenni “the Tunisian revolution was a dream and is still a dream.”

After the Spring, When Our Dreams Were Hijacked, by Lamis Andoni
Five years on from the day the Tunisian vegetable vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight, igniting the anger and agony of the marginalised and oppressed across the Arab world, the forces of the counter-revolution are once again on top - and asserting their cruel vengeance. Lamis Andoni provides an analysis of the current situation in the Arab world, and how it differs from the image the people of the “Arab revolutions” had in mind in 2011.

Extinguishing the Flames of the Arab Spring, by Ahmed El Amraoui
In the years since Bouazizi's death, Tunisia has gone through tremendous change. After street protests forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile after two decades of his rule, Tunisia adopted a new constitution and held national elections in 2014. Earlier this month, the country's National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for assisting Tunisia's transition to democracy. But despite the changes that have taken place around them, residents of Sidi Bouzid say their lives are no better than they were before the uprising.

Tunisia’s L.G.B.T. Activists Push Forward, by Conor McCormicj-Cavanagh
The Shams group, Tunisia’s first LGBT organization, planned to protest on 10 December, outside Tunisia’s parliament building in the Bardo neighborhood of Tunis. Two days before the planned demonstration, Tunisia’s Bardo police precinct told the Shams group it would not be allowed to protest because "this perversion cannot be allowed." Then, on 10 December, International Human Rights Day, six young men were arrested in their university dormitory in Kairouan and sentenced to three years each in prison on charges of sodomy. Shams called for protest against these new arrests, but with the state of emergency, the route forward remains unclear. Although the mere existence of an LGBT group in Tunisia is a solid sign of progress, gay rights activists face a long, uphill battle in claiming equal rights in their country.

How the Israel Boycott Movement Struck Major Blows in 2015, by Ali Abunimah
2015, which also marked the 10th anniversary of the Palestinian civil society call for BDS, showed clearly that this diverse and decentralized movement founded and led by Palestinians is a growing match for Israel. Ali Abunimah enlists some of the movement’s success stories, as well as Israel’s counterattack against the movement.

University of Barcelona Announces Official Boycott of Israeli Occupation, by The Palestinian Information Center
The Central University of Barcelona (UAB) announced its decision to boycott Israeli universities and institutions that have ties, whether direct or indirect, with the occupation of Palestine. The move makes part of the international initiative “Places without Racism” launched by hundreds of official institutions and universities around the world.

Poisoned Apple: the Curse of Social Media in the Gulf, by Chloe Majdipour
While the increased take up rates of social media in the Gulf region might signify some progress for its citizens, the extent to which it empowers them is greatly outweighed by the states’ surveillance of Gulf citizens through the same vehicle. As long as Gulf governments silently loom over social media users in the Gulf and threaten them with punishment, there can be no real social and political change in the Gulf states anytime soon.

Art

This Female Refugee Is Using Street Art to Change the Way Her Country Thinks About Girls, by Amanda Froelich
Recognizing the power of activism through art, Laila Ajjawi is spray painting murals to challenge the assumptions her culture makes about women. Traditionally, women are taught to be subservient in a male-dominated society. Palestinian refugees, as well, face ongoing discrimination. Through her murals and activism, she hopes to show other refugees, young women, and girls that they, too, can take control of their destinies.

Decolonizing Culture, by Olivia C. Harrison and TEressa Villa-Ignacio
A repository of seminal 1960s texts from across the colonized and postcolonial world, Souffles-Anfas provides a window onto the transnational cultural and political movements that mark the heyday of Third Worldism and anticolonial theory. The sentiments and political grievances expressed in Souffles-Anfas are precursors to contemporary progressive movements—from the pro-democracy revolts collectively termed the Arab Spring to struggles for racial justice in the West. The journal proved instrumental in establishing dialogues between writers, artists, and activists from Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Events & Conferences

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

 

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