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DARS Media Roundup (August 2016)

[Bedouin women protest in front of bulldozers, plowing private lands of the unrecognized village of Al Araqib, July 2016. Image by Activestills, via Flickr.] [Bedouin women protest in front of bulldozers, plowing private lands of the unrecognized village of Al Araqib, July 2016. Image by Activestills, 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

“Activism” and Its Consequences: Syrian Refugees Are Not Subjects for a Social Media Gallery, by Ramzy Baroud
In this piece, Ramzy Baroud criticizes those who call themselves “activists” and limit their actions to photographs and social media. He argues that “Humanitarianism is not a photo op: it is not an adventure; it is not a vacation; it is not a stress or guilt reliever; it should not be an expression of cultural hegemony or driven by a sense of superiority, and must refrain from selling false hope. A true humanitarian activist is one who is able to make a tangible difference in the lives of others–focused, sensitive to cultural sensibilities, compelled by a tug of moral responsibility, able to read political contexts, and daring enough to hold accountable those responsible for war and other collective tragedies.”

Human Rights and the Failed Coup in Turkey, by Richard Falk
The failed coup in Turkey is a momentous occurrence, with uncertain implications for the future of the country, and serious reverberations regionally and with respect to relations between Turkey and the United States and Europe. Although many commentators rightly point to the risk to the rule of law posed by the sweeping post-coup purges, too few applaud the successful defeat of the putschists as an unambiguous victory for human rights and democracy.

Turkish L.G.B.T. Activists Protest Gruesome Murder of Transgender Woman, by Erin Rook
Turkish activists took to the streets of Istanbul on 21 August to protest the rape and murder of a young transgender woman. Hande Kader, a twenty three-year-old sex worker, was last seen getting into a client’s car. By the time her body was found on 12 August in an upper middle class neighborhood, it had been mutilated and set on fire. Protestors called on authorities to find the perpetrator of the hate crime that has captured the attention of the global community. According to Transgender Europe, Turkey is the most dangerous country in Europe for transgender people, though “there is no safe country for trans people.”

Activists Launch “Syria With No Mines” Campaign, by Faris Al-Rifai
A number of Syrian activists and organizations working in the field of documentation, justice, and human rights launched a campaign under the title, “Syria with No Mines” that aims at raising awareness within Syrian society of the danger of mines, unexploded ammunition, and the remnants of war. The campaign is being launched in the city of Manbij and its countryside. As it indicated in the campaign statement, Manbij is witnessing a tragic humanitarian situation with daily human losses due to the remnants of war and the mines planted in the city and its countryside.

One Year After Lebanon’s #YouStink Movement: Popular Uprising Imminent? by Kareem Chehayeb
One year after Lebanon’s protests about finding a solution to the garbage crisis, Kareem Chehayeb evaluates the progress of #YouStink movement and active citizenship in Lebanon.

Boycotting Israel in Lebanon: “A Lot More to Be Done,” by Venetia Rainey
Activists have launched an app enabling people to instantly check if a product is made by a company supporting Israel. It is a slick bit of technology created by the group behind the event, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, which was founded back in 2002 and is arguably the oldest organized effort to peacefully challenge Israel's occupation of Palestine on an economic and cultural level.

Egypt: Christians Ignore Protest Ban, Claim They Are Treated as “Second Class Citizens,” by James Macintyre
A group of Egyptian Christians took part in a rare protest in downtown Cairo, saying that they are being treated as second class citizens in the Muslim-majority country and calling on the government to defend their rights. Despite a draconian ban on protests in Egypt, some three-dozen protesters held signs demanding rights in disputes between Muslims and Christians.

Anti-Coup Demonstrations Held in Egypt Before Rabaa Anniversary, by The New Arab
Anti-coup demonstrations took place around Egypt in commemoration of the third anniversary of the Rabaa massacre. The protests were held by the anti-coup alliance under the title Rabaa: The Story of the Nation. The demonstrators marched in solidarity with victims of the Rabaa massacre where thousands of protesters were killed when the military stormed a sit-in held in support of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. 

Sahrawi Protesters Recount Recent Abuses, by Habibulah Mohamed Lamin
As the indigenous Sahrawis strive for independence from Morocco, progress and setbacks are intertwined. In July came progress: Morocco’s highest appeals court ordered a new trial for twenty-four Sahrawi activists who had been arrested after a mass protest in 2010 at the Gdeim Izik camp. Yet on 21 August, political activist Sukain Jad Ahlu was leading a peaceful protest at the Fem El Oud beach when she was attacked by police and badly beaten.

“Broken Promises.” Leading Women Activists Spurn Presidential Invitation, by Zained Ben Taieb
A number of Tunisia’s leading female advocates snubbed the president’s invitation to celebrate National Women’s Day at the Presidential Palace over what they said was his failure to honor numerous campaign promises. Journalists Aida Arab and Chahrazed Akacha, Professor Olfa Youssef and the actress Sawsen Maalej were all among those who vocally declined the invitation of President Beji Caid Essebsi to attend the ceremony at Carthage.

Unemployed Protesters Block Tunisia’s Phosphate Mining Site of Metlaoui, by Linnete Bahati
Production of phosphate in the mining town of Metlaoui, south east of Tunisia has been brought to a standstill by sit-in protests from local youths demanding employment and economic opportunities. The protesters have vowed to continue staging protests until the promises made by the outgoing government of Habib Essid in June last year regarding their employment have been fulfilled.

How the Bahraini Monarchy Crushed the Country’s Arab Spring, by Said Yousif Almuhafda
Over the past five years, many opposition figures and human rights activists have been imprisoned in Bahrain. Moreover, Bahrain has the largest proportion of political prisoners in the world. The author examines how the Bahraini government has been silencing voices of dissent all these years.

Bahrain urged to end prosecution of leading rights activist Nabeel Rajab, by Middle East Eye
According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain should stop the prosecution of one of the kingdom’s leading human rights activists. Nabeel Rajab was arrested on 2 April last year for comments made on Twitter that criticized the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. He was released on 13 July last year but was re-arrested on 13 June and is on trial facing fifteen years in prison. The charges against him include “spreading rumors during wartime” and “insulting a statutory body." Human Rights Watch said Rajab’s trial demonstrates Bahrain’s lack of respect for human rights.

Black Lives Matter and Palestine: A Historic Alliance, by Hamid Dabashi
Hamid Dabashi comments on the Black Lives Matter movement manifesto and one of its declarations regarding the question of Palestinian national liberation, denouncing the US government for its unconditional support for Israel’s settlement policies. He concludes by arguing that “the historic solidarity between these two movements is all but inevitable, and its leaders are not the corrupt US politicians that AIPAC can buy and recruit to support one of the most vicious legacies of European colonialism, now sustained by US militarism, in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world.”

A new milestone: B.D.S. at the Olympics, by Nada Elia
The snubbing by Lebanese, Egyptian, and Saudi athletes of members of the Israeli delegation at the Olympic Games is a political act. And of course, Israel has complained that these athletes “are bringing their respective countries’ ongoing conflict with Israel to the Rio games.” The actions of these athletes are in keeping with the Palestinian call for global solidarity in the form of BDS, including the sports boycott of Israel. A sports boycott is an individual gesture with the greater immediate negative consequences suffered by the person engaging in it, as they will likely be disqualified from further competition. Yet the Arab athletes who refused to normalize with the Israelis have been criticized as violating “etiquette” and “the Olympic spirit.” Which drives one to wonder, is this yet another venue where Israeli exceptionalism wins, as the violent, racist state is left off the hook, not held accountable for its assault on Palestinian athletes?

The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine, by Jonathan Cook
For decades Israel has been driving Palestinian farmers off their land by imposing restrictions on agriculture, but one company, Canaan Fair Trade, has found an innovative way to resist.

Palestine: Crackdown on Journalists, Activists, by Human Rights Watch
The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza are arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities. The crackdown on free speech and the use of torture violate the legal commitments that the Palestinian Authority (PA) assumed in 2014, when it ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture. They also violate provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law protecting speech. At a time when many Palestinians are critical of their leaders, the crackdowns have a chilling effect on public debate in the traditional news media, and on social media.

Global Protests Highlight Severe Water Crisis in Gaza and West Bank, by Orly Noy
Activists across the world organized light installation protests over the past few days to bring attention to the diminishing water supply for Palestinians in the West Bank, along with contamination and severe water shortages in the Gaza Strip. In a display of lights reflected in the water, activists from Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne, and Perth stood alongside ponds and beaches forming illuminated words reading, “Water is a basic right,” in different languages.

Palestinian B.D.S. National Committee condemns creation of Israeli taskforce to deport international human rights activists, by Palestinian BDS National Committee
The Palestinian BDS National Committee strongly condemned Israel’s establishment of a taskforce specifically for identifying international BDS activists and groups in order to deny them entry or deport them from the country. The decision to establish this anti-BDS task force was made by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Arye Dery.

Palestinian Civil Society Condemns Turkey’s Rapprochement with Israel, by Palestinian BDS National Committee
In this statement the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) denounces the rapprochement agreement signed in June by the Turkish government with Israel and ratified by Turkey on 31 August. It calls upon the Turkish government to refrain from collaborating with the Israeli regime of oppression in its violations of Palestinian human rights. The BNC also calls upon Turkish oil and gas companies not to be complicit in the Israeli energy sector’s pillage of Palestinian and Syrian natural resources and its illegal denial of the right of Palestinians to access these resources.

Defiant Celtic Fans’ Game Changer for Palestine, by Yvonne Ridley
Thousands of ordinary Celtic fans picked up and waved Palestinian flags at their Celtic Park Stadium during a match against an Israeli team; the flag-waving demonstration flew in the face of police advice. This simple but powerful act of mass defiance created a storm of media attention.

Palestinian Refugees Fundraise to Help Pay Scottish Club’s Fine, by Middle East Monitor
The Ibdaa Cultural Centre in Bethlehem’s Al-Duheisha refugee camp organized an event in support of the Scottish Celtic Football Club after its fans waved Palestine flags when the team played against Israel’s Hapoel Beer Sheva team. Hundreds of children attended the event to support the club, many donating their pocket money to help pay the fine issued by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Palestinian Activists Declare Hunger Strike in P.A. Prison as Anger Mounts in West Bank, by Areeb Ullah
Six Palestinian activists have begun a hunger strike demanding their immediate release, after being held without charge and tortured for more than six months by the Palestinian Authority, according to a Ramallah-based prisoner and human rights group. The hunger strike comes amid mounting opposition to the PA in the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinians turned a funeral procession on 28 August in the city of Nablus into a protest against the PA, after a former Fatah leader was allegedly beaten to death by PA security forces. 

How Arab Authoritarian Regimes Learned to Defeat Popular Protests, by Mark Lynch
Mark Lynch provides a review of the POMEPS Studies 21 Transnational Diffusion and Cooperation in the Middle East. The contributors to this collection explore how significant learning and diffusion did take place among Arab regimes in the years following the uprisings.


Do not Panic! Syrian Writers and Artists Are the Enemies of Extremism, by Malu Halasa
Malu Halasa has co-edited the book Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, with Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud. A woman was detained in the United Kingdom after being seen reading this book. In this article, Halasa writes about the actual content of the book and the worsening situation for artists in Syria. Syria Speaks is made up of pieces by more than fifty Syrian artists and writers, and resoundingly counters radicalization, with its message of nonviolence and emphasis on creative expression.

Palestinian Music Band Protests Israeli Security Forces With An Impromptu Concert, by Middle East Monitor
A group of Palestinian musicians yesterday performed their songs and music in front of the Erez crossing after Israeli occupation forces prevented them from travelling to Jerusalem. Dawaween, a group of musicians and singers from across the Gaza Strip, were refused the necessary travel permits in order to travel to Jerusalem to participate the Palestine International Festival for Dance and Music. In response to the decision they setup a musical protest at the Erez crossing. Israel listed “security concerns” as the reason for denying the band their travel documents; however the musicians insist their only tools are their lute, drum and other such instruments.

Events & Conferences

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

Dissent and Censorship in a Changing Turkey Lecture, Frontline Club, 13 September 2016, London, UK.

Fighting Walls: Street Art in Egypt and Iran + a Rebel Scene, 1 October 2016 – 18 December 2016, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, United Kingdom

A Century of Youth Engaging Politics in the Arab World Conference, 16-19 May 2017, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada (Call for Papers Deadline: 23 September 2016).

Left-Wing Trends in the Arab World (1948-1979): Bringing Transnational Back in Conference, 12 December 2016, Orient-Istitut Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

Create Syria Exhibition, 21 September – 2 October 2016, Talking Peace Festival, House of Vans, London, UK.





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