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Media on Media Roundup (July 28)

Anti-coup protesters after 15 July 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt in Bağcılar, İstanbul, Turkey. [Photo by Maurice Flesier, Wikimedia Commons] Anti-coup protesters after 15 July 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt in Bağcılar, İstanbul, Turkey. [Photo by Maurice Flesier, Wikimedia Commons]

This week's "Media on Media Roundup" features an array of articles ranging from discussion of the aftermath of the attempted military coup in Turkey and hostility towards the LGBTQ community in Israel to how the Middle East is reacting to Pokemon GO.

One of the earliest consequences of the coup was the throttling and restriction of Internet access. ​Turkish authorities took it a step further by blocking access to WikiLeaks after the release of over 300,000 ruling party emails "in response to the government's post-coup purges."

While much of the post-coup Turkey discussion remains fixated on ​President Erdogan's ironic reliance on social media to cling to power, Kurdish activists are concerned with entirely different implications of the coup. The ​pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party have launched a campaign with its own hashtag, #WeDemand2SeeOcalan, calling for a probe for imprisoned Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan to ensure coup plotters did not target him.

Kurdish activists were also behind a campaign launched on social media in response to an attack on the Avesta, the first and largest Kurdish publishing house in Turkey. ​Readers purchased every last burnt book as an act of solidarity, thanks to the exposure the fire got on social media.

A Syrian news service took to social media for a similarly noble cause this week, as ​it published images of children in war-torn areas of the country holding pictures of, or posing alongside Photoshopped Pokemon characters in a bid to call public attention at a time when it is wrapped up in the augmented-reality video game.

Unsurprisingly, Pokemon GO also made headlines in Saudi Arabia after reports on social media duped a number of reputable media outlets, ​including the BBC, into publishing articles about a fatwa being issued against the video game. ​Saudi authorities issued a statement, categorically denying such "unfounded" reports. To cap this week's roundup off, here is an ​article about how Arab meme-makers have reacted to Pokemon GO.

All of these stories, and more, are available below in further detail.

Media and Politics

Qatar uses media to take on its own allies, at arm’s length
Source: Gulf News Journal
This article contends that the Qatari state is abusing its power by funding major media outlets to spread its message across borders, in an effort to shape public opinion ahead of political disputes.

Syrian rebel group investigates beheading of child seen in video
Source: Reuters
According to Reuters, a Syrian rebel group that has received military support from the U.S. is being investigated by the U.S State department following the release of a video depicting the beheading of a child accused of fighting for an opposing faction. The article contends that it is actually the U.S. funding that has given the incident so much attention.

Turkey blocks access to WikiLeaks after ruling party email dump
Source: Reuters
Reuters reports on the response by Turkish authorities to block access to WikiLeaks, who recently released 300,000 emails taken from the Turkish government.


برنامج عن محمود درويشعلى إذاعة الجيش الإسرائيلي يغضب ليبرمان
مصدر: France24
محمود درويش، احد اهم الشعراء العرب و رمز للقضية الفلسطينية وارتبطت شهرته لفترة طويلة بحركة المقاومة الفلسطينية ضد إسرائيل.  وزير الدفاع أفيغدور ليبرمان استدعى مدير إذاعة الجيش يورام ديكيل للتنديد ببث الإذاعة برنامجا عن الشاعر الفلسطيني الراحل.

From Egypt to Colombia: On the content of comics
Source: Mada Masr
A first-hand account of the motivations that drive comic book writers and illustrators Lina Moreno and Sara Ahmed Abdel Aziz. Abdel Aziz, an Egyptian, posits that the country’s comics tradition tends to focus on social issues, while Moreno argues that Colombian comics focus on the individual. 

The Caesar: Where NGOs burn the world and terrorists speak through CNN
Source: Mada Masr
Heba Afify critiques the Egyptian series The Caesar, which she considers to be guilty of reproducing state-endorsed conspiracy theories despite an initially promising premise of being set against the backdrop of the volatile Sinai region. 

Israeli Defense Minister Compares Beloved Palestinian Poet to Hitler
Source: New York Times
James Glanz of the New York Times weighs up the damage of Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman’s decision to compare iconic Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish to Adolf Hitler, an act which has angered Palestinians and free speech advocates alike.

The former child bride who is using her story to liberate Afghan women
Source: The Guardian
Zahra Yaganah’s book, Light of Ashes, tackles taboo subjects in Afghani culture such as sex, rape and menstruation. This review details how the book has been received around the country and its role in empowering women.

Devoted readers save the burned Kurdish books of Diyarbakir
Source: Middle East Eye
Following an attack on Avesta, Turkey’s first and largest Kurdish book publisher, in which thousands of books were burnt, readers have responded on social media by purchasing every ruined book as an act of solidarity. This attack is put in the broader context of hostility towards Kurds in Turkey and the rich history of Kurdish storytelling.

Netanyahu's battle against public broadcasting

Source: Al-Monitor
This article argues that Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions as prime minister and minister of communications represent a severe conflict of interests. Furthermore, it claims that Netanyahu is intent on suppressing public broadcasting for as long as he leads the country, as it does not serve his political agenda.

No shock winner: ‘Selfie’ triumphs over ‘Al Sadma’ and Ramez Galal during Ramadan
Source: AlBawaba
This article builds on a recent market study to discuss the rise in popularity in reality TV during this past Ramadan, focusing on the decreased viewing numbers for Arabic language drama (usually more popular) and the increased viewing numbers for TV shows Selfie, Al Sadma, and Ramez Plays with Fire.   

Freedom of Press/Expression 

Gaza: The Last Picture
Source: Al Jazeera
Cameraman Khaled Hamad was killed while filming the atrocities committed by Israel in the 2014 siege on Gaza. Al Jazeera includes insight from his colleagues and family who claim Israel made it policy to attack journalists in a bid to minimize coverage of the bombardment. 

Middle Eastern LGBT magazine looking at ‘risky’ expansion into Arabic
Source: Egypt Independent
The Jordan based webzine is under rising pressure, especially after plans to expand into publishing Arabic content. This article aims to highlight the process by which the webzine aims to achieve this, in the conservative society of the Middle East.

Homophobia rears its ugly head in Pride month in Israel
Source: +972
Israel’s LGBTQ community is facing condemnation from ultra-Orthodox rabbis labeling them ‘sick’, according to this article, as hate speech and hostility increase.

Detained Iranian-Canadian artist freed, returns to Vancouver
Source: Middle East Eye
Celebrated Iranian artist Parvis Tanavoli had his passport confiscated for two weeks for “disturbing public opinion” and “spreading lies”. In response, this source argues that his artwork is generally not considered political and, instead, that Iranian authorities are clamping down on citizens who hold dual citizenship.

Social Media

Turkey’s Erdogan used the social media he despised to maintain his grip on power
Source: The Japan Times
This article highlights the importance of controlling media outlets during times of turmoil and uncertainty, in shadow of the recent failed coup in Turkey, especially for those who want to retain power over the population.

UAE warns against posting photos, videos of traffic accidents on social media
Source: Gulf Business
Building on the notion that posting content over on social media would be considered an invasion of privacy and against Islamic tradition, the Ministry of Interior in the UAE has declared the practice illegal.

Pokémon GO! The New Arab Revolution
Source: elan (blog)
This blog post collects memes about the combine tropes from augmented reality game with commentary from the Arab world.

Sinai tells its own story
Source: Mada Masr
This report examines the emergence of Facebook pages that residents of the Sinai have turned to tell their own stories about what is going on the region.

Kurds call for probe into Ocalan conditions after coup attempt
Source: Middle East Eye
Kurdish activists have started a hashtag “#WeDemand2SeeOcalan” in the wake of the attempted coup in Turkey in response to fears that separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan was targeted. Middle East Eye offers a selection of tweets from the campaign.

Saudi Arabia denies issuing new fatwa against Pokemon
Source: Reuters
A report on how a number of news organizations (including the BBC) picked up a false story circulated on social media that Saudi clerics had issued a religious edict banning Pokemon Go.

Campaign seizes on Pokémon Go craze to draw attention to Syrian conflict
Source: The Guardian
An online campaign has been launched to capture the attention of Pokémon GO users and divert it towards Syrian children in need. The Guardian offers comparisons of reactions to the campaign and the game itself across the world.

EU eyes Israeli technologies for spotting militants online
Source: Reuters
This article contains quotes from EU security officials who hope to emulate Israeli methods of spotting would-be ‘lone wolf’ attackers on social media. The focus is more on the need to facilitate these technologies in Europe rather than how it affects rights to privacy, treated almost as an afterthought.

‘Social Media for Academics’: An Actually Useful Guide
Source: The Tyee
A review of Mark Carrigan’s recent book Social Media for Academics: This book analysis sheds light on pragmatic steps that academics can take to better leverage the medium for publishing.

Media Practices

Was Arabic ad on Israeli TV a clever publicity stunt?
Source: Al-Monitor
Whether it was for economic benefit or to tap into the Arabic-speaking market, the ad which ran on Israeli TV has certainly caused controversy among the Israeli community, inciting calls of racism and xenophobia, though the writer argues that this might be another method of attempting normalization among the fighting parties. 

If the Turkish press cannot criticise Erdoğan, then foreign media must speak out
Source: The Independent
Amid all the confusion occurring among local Turkish media outlets during the first few hours of the failed coup, this article argues that foreign media have the obligation and responsibility to criticize the government and simply ignore all restrictions applied on domestic outlets.

Main media source on Syrian conflict is a t-shirt shop
Source: Axis of Logic (blog)
A blog post commenting on international media’s use of the term “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, and how they are becoming lazy in checking the facts and making sure of their resource legitimacy.

Saudi Arabia's PR Machine Uses the 28 Pages to Blame Iran for 9/11 AttacksSource: The Intercept
Following the U.S. government’s decision to release a 28-page congressional report of possible ties between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 hijackers, the Intercept has listed and dissected examples of the Saudi PR machine at work, dismissing and denying all claims of such connection to the attacks

The Elusive Search for “Objectivity” in Reporting on the Yemen War
Source: Muftah
This article argues that the current media ecosystem, many journalists find themselves pressured to use an increasingly authoritative voice, to form ever more linear narratives and make stronger statements of ‘fact’ despite the limited information at their disposal, while focusing on what their readers want, rather than what the author feels to be the most salient details. 

Nothing will be as before
Source: AFP
Two Turkish Istanbul-based AFP correspondents were separately covering different events commemorating the Nice attacks. This article combines their story and photos that they ended up taking of the Turkish coup instead.

Other Articles

No justice for Gaza youth killed in viral video
Source: Electronic Intifada
Two years after the unjust killing of Gaza youth Salem Shamaly that made headlines as a viral video, his family has yet to receive any closure. Electronic Intifada profiles Salem and labels his murder a war crime as the video shows he was unarmed.

60 Minutes child abduction case: Adam Whittington released from Beirut jail
Source: The Guardian
After a botched kidnapping attempt that involved an Australian crew of journalists getting arrested in Lebanon, Adam Whittington, one of its members is set to be released. This article offers the perspective of his wife and family who feel he has been treated unfairly.

Intimate portraits of Gaza’s lost
Source: Electronic Intifada
A report on ‘Obliteratred Families’ a new multimedia project that endeavors to tell the stories of families partially or totally destroyed by the 2014 Israeli bombardment of Gaza. The report comments on the narrative strategy of telling stories through personal experience. 

Flashpoint's New Research Illuminates Jihadists' Digital Toolbox

Source: Flashpoint
This newly released article offers an in-depth view at how IS was utilizing digital tools into propagating its message across the dark web and open social media alike. Apparently they are big fans of VPNs, encrypted IMs, and GPS fakers.

If you get caught using a VPN in the UAE, you will face fines of up to $545,000
Source: IBTimes
A new federal law was introduced in the country that would make it illegal for anyone to use virtual private networks or proxy servers to bypass surveillance or avoid hefty costs of VOIP.  VPNs are often used to get past government-imposed blocks on sites.

[The "Media On Media Roundup" is an initiative to survey published material in the news and broadcast media that deals with journalism, coverage, or mass communication practices about the region. These roundups are produced in collaboration with May Farah, Hatim El-Hibri, and Greg Burris of the American University of Beirut's Media Studies Program and are curated by AUB graduate students Rami Deeb and Mahmoud Jaber. The items collected here do not reflect the views of Jadaliyya or the editors of the Media Page. You may send your comments or recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Friday night of every week.] 

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