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DARS Media Roundup (June 2016)

[Demonstrations of public high school students in Egypt 29 June 2016. Image by EslamGomaa, via Flickr] [Demonstrations of public high school students in Egypt 29 June 2016. Image by EslamGomaa, 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

Dozens Protest Rising Fuel Prices in Syria Capital, by Agence France Press
Dozens of protesters gathered in Damascus on 19 June for a rare demonstration in front of Syria's parliament against a forty per cent hike in fuel prices announced one week earlier. As lawmakers met inside the parliament building, protestors carried signs reading "No to corruption!" and "Parliament – stand with the people, say no to raising prices!" "No to rising prices, people are starving to death," another read. The demonstration appeared to be tolerated by Syria's authorities, with about a dozen riot police stationed near parliament allowing the protest to go ahead.

Syrians Protest Against Israeli Occupation and Planned Annexation of the Golan Heights, by International Middle East Media Center
Syrians in the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights have rallied in protest against the Israeli occupation, illegal oppression of Syrian culture and identity, outspoken plans to permanently annex the Syrian territory and Israel’s use of the Golan for military action against Syria and the support of Al-Qaeda and ISIL linked insurgents in their fight against the Syrian State.

Violent Suppression of Protest Against Plundering of Western Sahara’s Natural Resources, by Sahara Press Service
According to the Sahrawi news agency S.P.S., Moroccan occupation forces intervened violently to disperse a Sahrawi protest against the presence of the Polish company Geofizyka Krakow in Western Sahara, working for Morocco. The participants were peacefully protesting against the plundering of the natural resources and the presence of foreign companies, like the Polish firm Geofizyka Krakow, in Western Sahara, in violation of the international law and the right of Sahrawi people to benefit from their natural resources. 

Will Marwan Barghouti be the Palestinian Nelson Mandela? By Gidi Weitz and Jack Khoury
This article provides a detailed analysis on Marwan Barghouti, based on historical events and discussions with people who visited him in jail. According to the authors, Barghouti today appears to present a complete conceptual alternative to Abbas when it comes to key issues: reconciliation with Hamas, the immediate cessation of security cooperation with Israel, Palestinian Authority support for nonviolent mass protest against Israel and a boycott of Israeli goods. Barghouti thinks that the “intifada of knives” is a fatal mistake. In a conversation via a mediator who visited him in prison, he told Haaretz that a popular protest should encompass hundreds of thousands of people from all the Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The protest has to be persistent and systematic, in order to create international pressure on Israel to return to the negotiating table and end the occupation.

Iceland’s Capital Adopts Motion to Boycott Israeli Goods, by Haaretz
The city council of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, has adoped a motion to boycott Israeli-made goods. The boycott will be in place “as long as the occupation of Palestinian territories continues,” the motion said. According to the motion, it is "a symbolic act," intended to show the city council's support for the Palestinian statehood and its condemnation of “the Israeli policy of apartheid," according to a report in Iceland Magazine.

Bahrain Accused of Launching Cyber War on Protest Village, by Middle East Eye
Bahrain has been accused of shutting down internet and mobile coverage in a village beset by anti-government protests, enabling automated Twitter accounts to bombard a popular local hashtag with sectarian, anti-Shia content. The latest round of demonstrations in Diraz began on 20 June when Bahrain’s government stripped the country’s highest ranking Shia cleric and Dirza resident, Sheikh Isa Qassim, of his citizenship. Bahraini authorities quickly set up checkpoints around the village, refusing entry to those attempting to enter. The heavy police presence in Diraz also comes amid a wider crackdown that has seen human rights defenders jailed and al-Wefaq, the largest Shia opposition group in Bahrain, banned.

Protesters Gather in Baghdad to Demand Reform, by Middle East Online
Around one thousand demonstrators gathered in central Baghdad on 3 June to demand an end to corruption and a government reshuffle, in the latest in a long string of weekly protests. Unlike the previous week, no violence erupted between the massive deployment of security forces and the protesters, most of whom are supporters of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Sadrist protests have twice led to breaches of the fortified Green Zone, where the country's top institutions are located. The demonstrators want Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's plan to replace the government of party-affiliated ministers with a cabinet of technocrats to be implemented. The move is being opposed however by many politicians, including within Abadi's own party, who want to preserve the patronage system that is their main source of power and wealth.

Egyptian Students Clash With Police After Protests Over Education, by Middle East Eye
Hundreds of teenage Egyptian students gathered in front of the Ministry of Education in downtown Cairo on 27 June, decrying what they saw as an “oppressive and failing” educational system and demanding that the minister of education “leave”. A few hours into their protest, as students began heading to Tahrir Square, armoured police vehicles dispersed the crowds of young people with tear gas and chased them into the narrower side roads of Mohamed Mahmoud street.

Egypt: Judging the Protest Law, by Ziad Bahaa-Eldin
The Egyptian state is intending to amend the protest law number 107 of 2013. The author explains the four major flaws of this law, and argues that the adoption of the protest law was a sign of Egypt’s diversion from the democratic path. While he welcomes the amendment of this law, he believes that at least four other laws curbing political and civic freedoms should also be revised.

Egypt’s Press Union Calls for End to “Violations Against Journalists and Media,” by Ahram Online
Egypt's press syndicate has called for an end to violations against journalists and media workers following recent violations against reporters and the arrest and deportation of a popular Lebanese talk show host. In a statement released Tuesday 28 June, the journalists syndicate's Freedom Committee condemned "security violations" against freedoms, namely freedom of press. The union deplored reported police assaults on journalists who were covering Monday protests by Thanaweya Amma high school students against a government decision to cancel and postpone some of their end-of-year exams. "The recent attacks on journalists and media professionals come to emphasize the determination to keep security rein on issues of freedom in general and freedom of the press in particular," the syndicate's statement read.

Understanding 554 Travel Bans Since 2011, by Pesha Magid
A spate of travel bans issued in recent months against human rights defenders in relation to a reopened 2011 case against a number of civil society and human rights organizations is just the latest in a long list of travel bans issued since the January 25 revolution and increasingly common after June 30. Independent platform Daftar Ahwal issued a report listing 554 known cases of travel bans and banned entry since February 2011. The data clearly shows that the number of travel bans increased sharply after June 30, under the leadership of interim president Adly Mansour, with travel bans continuing to be issued in high numbers under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The Four Times in Egyptian History Civilian Workers Were Tried by Military Courts, by Jano Charbel
Since the army-led takeover of the Egyptian state in July 1952, there have been four historic cases in which military courts tried civilian workers for protesting in demand of basic labor rights. Most recently, on 18 June a military trial began of twenty-six Alexandria Shipyard Company employees on charges of instigating strikes. These four trials exemplify the extent of the military judiciary’s far-reaching arm over civilian workers, regardless of whether they are employed by army-owned industries or civilian facilities.

June 30, Three Years On: Independent Labor Movements Suffer More Losses Than Gains, by Jano Charbel
Once aligned with Armed Forces generals during the June 30 movement, today leaders of independent trade unions today lament their lost agency and worry over forthcoming legislation and the general deterioration of workers’ conditions. There were no large-scale strikes or significant industrial actions during the June 30, 2013 uprising against the one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and former President Mohamed Morsi, unlike during the January 25, 2011 mobilizations that overthrew the thirty-years rule of former President Hosni Mubarak. Rather, the 2013 uprising and the events surrounding it engendered a polarization within Egypt’s labor movement marked by several organizational schisms.

Jordanian Police Clash With Unemployed Protesters South of Amman, by Middle East Eye
On 23 June unemployed youth demonstrated in the region of Dhiban in Jordan, calling for jobs, better economic conditions and regional development. The police tried to disperse the demonstrators, leading to a confrontation, with injuries reported on both sides. Dhiban, home to about fifty thousant people, is one of the poorest areas in Jordan. It was the birthplace of large-scale protests in 2011 that were inspired by the Arab Spring but which largely focused on economic woes.

Ennahda: Meet Tunisia’s Rebranded Muslim Democrats, by Peter Oborne and David Hearst
From an underground mass movement to revolution, Ennahda is now the main opposition party in Tunisia. Once called Islamists, these days they prefer to describe themselves as Muslim democrats. In this interview, Rachid Ghannouchi, Leader of Ennahda, elaborates on the new vision of his party and the break with political Islam. 


PLO Art Collection Resurfaces in Tehran and Beirut
Artworks that had been part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) collection but which went missing during Israeli bombing of Lebanon in 1982 have resurfaced in the basement of a Tehran museum and some private homes in the Lebanese capital. The Palestinian artist Nasser Soumi is working to recover part of the almost 200 works donated in the 1970s by painters from 31 countries who supported the Palestinian cause, including Guttuso, Mirò, Tapies, Giò Pomodoro, Samonà and Treccani.

Socially Engaged Art Practices in Tunisia, Christine Bruckbauer and Patricia K. Triki
Tunisian artists and other cultural players have gradually learned to be a mouthpiece for society. They observe the developments in the new state and protest against human rights violations. Today, there are close binds between art and sociopolitical engagement. 'The political aspect in this engagement cannot be separated from artistic engagement. Art thus becomes a state affair', writes the artist and art critic Selima Karoui in her article that investigates the place of art in the public space of Tunisia. It is a necessity that this artistic activism leaves the protected space of the studio and conventional exhibition venues and to invest in new sites and places for art. Now more than ever, art requires public attention in order to be effective. For the first time the artists dare to address former taboo subjects like violations of human rights, social inequality and corruption and wish to create highest possible awareness within the Tunisian population but also in the international public eye. 

In Tunis, A New Home for Comics, by Elisa Pierandrei
This interview with Tunisian graphic designer and comics artist Othman Selmi explores how the Arab comics sector is (re)establishing itself.

Syrian Actress Offers Herself to Tigers in German Refugee Art Protest, by Middle East Eye
May Skaf, a Syrian actress has closed a controversial political art exhibition in Germany by offering herself as food to four Libyan tigers in a symbolic protest against the death and humiliation faced by thousands of refugees trying to flee war. The Centre for Political Beauty, the German artists’ collective behind stunts advancing refugee rights, stationed the tigers in a square outside the Maxim Gorki Theatre in central Berlin for two weeks, in protest at what they see as Europe’s nonsensical asylum policy.

From Racism to Terrorism: How Artists Are Taking on Global Issues, by Kate Müser
A number of Arab artists participated at the Global Media Forum, an international media conference hosted by Deutsche Welle in Bonn, and spoke about their political activism. This article provides a selection of interviews with those artists.  

Promoting Peace Through Photographs in Tunis, by Sarah Souli
During the 2011 revolution, the Avenue Habib Bourghuiba became a center of protest, as thousands of Tunisians marched through the street demanding the resignation of Ben Ali. The avenue still plays host to countless demonstrations. And for the next three months, the Avenue Habib Bourghuiba will be a home to a new art exhibit: Making Peace. The exhibition explores the concept of peace, features 125 photographs taken by 111 photographers in dozens of countries and spans a century of conflict and struggle. The exhibition’s goal is to explore ways in which we can promote sustainable peace, and focuses on five topics: disarmament and nonviolence, conflict prevention and resolution, economic and social justice, human rights, law and democracy, and environment and sustainable development.

Events & Conferences

Making Peace Exhibition, 26 May – 21 September 2016, Avenue Habib Bourghuiba, Tunis, Tunisia

Rethinking Social Movements in the Digital Age: Activism, Dissent and Rebellion in the Post-Arab Spring, 29 July 2016, Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon. 


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