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DARS Media Roundup (October 2016)

[Stéphane Hessel painted portrait - Indignez-vous. Image by Thierry Ehrmann, via Flickr] [Stéphane Hessel painted portrait - Indignez-vous. Image by Thierry Ehrmann, 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

Morocco’s Al Hoceima Protests Reflect “a Heavy Legacy,” by Aida Alami
Moroccans protesting over the gruesome death of a fish seller have vowed to continue demonstrating until the full truth surrounding his death is known. Mouhcine Fikri was crushed to death in a rubbish truck on 28 October, as he reportedly tried to protest against a municipal worker seizing and destroying his wares. Protests were held all over the country to demand the prosecution of those responsible for the tragedy - widely seen as an act of police brutality and oppression. Fikri's death was compared by many observers with the fate of Mohammed Bouazizi, the street vendor whose death sparked the Tunisian revolution in 2011.

“It Could Happen to Any of Us”: Why the Revolution in Morocco Has Started, by Rlfflan
According to the author, events such as the death of the fish seller Mohsin Fikri happen all the time in Morocco, but they do not get recorded like this one. This Amazigh man’s death has opened the eyes of an entire nation and has made them say “enough.”

Moroccan Activists Plan Protests to Coincide with UN Climate Summit, by Maeve Shearlaw
Moroccan activists are planning to extend countrywide protests so as to bring issues of marginalisation and inequality to international attention at a major global climate summit taking place in Marrakech. Moroccan cities have witnessed the most serious protests since the Arab spring in recent days following an incident in which a fisherman died in an altercation with police.

Another Egyptian Bouazizi Ahead of November 11 Protests, by Noura Ali
While Egyptians are suffering from the government’s austerity policies and high prices, a taxi driver set himself on fire in front of an army center in Sidi Gaber, east Alexandria on 15 October, reportedly in protest against the country’s high prices and poor living conditions. The Egyptian citizen self-immolation has spread quickly on social media under the hashtag (#Bouazizi_Egypt). The hashtag is a reference to Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in 2010 in protest against high prices and poor living conditions.

Why Egypt’s Revolution of the Hungry is not coming soon, by Shahira Amin
Several videos have been posted since September on a Facebook page called Thawret El Ghalaba (Revolution of the Poor), urging Egyptians to participate in mass protests allegedly planned for 11 November “to overthrow the corrupt regime and liberate the country from those who have betrayed and humiliated the Egyptian people." Yet, according to some analysts, it seems many Egyptians don't want — or can't afford — an uprising at this time.

Egypt Prosecution Detains Five Over Inciting Protests on 11 November, by Ahram Online
Egypt's prosecution has ordered on 2 November a fifteen day detention for five men over inciting protests on 11 November and joining a terrorist group that aims to obstruct state institutions. According to prosecution, the five men formed a "terrorist cell" in Cairo's Al-Salam City. In recent week, an anonymous call circulated on social media for demonstrations on 11 November to protest the government's economic policies. Police has already arrested others over similar charges.

Sisi Promises to Reexamine Protest Law, by World Bulletin
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said the government will look into revising an anti-protest law and take recommendations on releasing jailed youths. Reading a series of conclusions at the end of the conference, Sisi said the government would look into revising the law passed in 2013, months after the former army chief overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi. The law, which bans all but police-sanctioned protests, has been used to jail activists for up to two years.

Can the Revision of the Protest Law Open a Fresh Page?, by Ziad Bahaa-Eldin
The author reflects on the revision of the protest law in Egypt. He suggests that if there is a genuine intention to revise the protest law, it must involve real, comprehensive change, that will be accompanied by a repeal of other laws issued in the past two years that restrict freedoms.

Arab Gulf States: Attempts to Silence 140 Characters, by Human Rights Watch
Gulf governments have attempted to silence peaceful critics in response to a wave of online activism in recent years, Human Rights Watch said in an interactive website that began operating on 1st November. The governments have responded to online criticism with surveillance, arrests, and other arbitrary punishments. In a nod to Twitter’s 140-character limit, this interactive website presents the profiles of 140 prominent Bahraini, Kuwaiti, Omani, Qatari, Saudi, and Emirati social and political rights activists and dissidents and describes their struggles to resist government efforts to silence them. All 140 have faced government retaliation for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and many have been arrested, tried, and sentenced to fines or prison.

EU Recognizes Right to Boycott Israel, by Ali Abunimah
Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy announced that the EU recognizes the right of its citizens to boycott Israel. “The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU member states’ territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory.” However, she reaffirmed that the EU “rejects the BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.”

Palestinians Demand UK Apology for Balfour Declaration, by Shafik Mandhai
Palestinian activists have launched a campaign calling on the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, which pledged a homeland for the Jewish people in historic Palestine nearly a century ago. At a launch event at the House of Parliament, Palestinian groups and their supporters blamed the plight of the Palestinian people on the legacy of the pledge and wider British colonialism in the region. If the petition reaches one hundred thousand signatures, the British parliament will have to consider debating the subject.

Pro-Israel Activists Smear Student Solidarity with Palestine, by Ben White
Israel advocacy groups and individuals are seeking to undermine Palestine solidarity activism on British campuses, using Islamophobic abuse and false accusations of antisemitism. Ben White describes several examples of such attacks and argues that while it is not a new phenomenon, it looks that it is set to escalate.

Palestinian Flag on London University Rugby Football Kit Sparks Anger, by Areeb Ullah
The Rugby Football Club of Goldsmiths University has decided to place the Palestinian flag on their rugby jerseys, as a show of solidarity with Palestinians living “under occupation,” and to “demonstrate the students’ unions commitment to boycott, divestment and sanctions movement” against Israel. This move has sparked critical reactions, describe the Club as “divisive” and supporting a campaign that is an “obstacle to peace.” It is not the first time in the last few months that Palestinian flags in sport have been a cause of controversy.

Huge Protest in Baghdad Against Turkey’s Presence in Iraq, by Carol Adl
On 18 October thousands of protesters surrounded the Turkish embassy in Baghdad to protest the continued presence of Turkish troops in Iraq. Iraq has repeatedly asked Turkey to withdraw its troops, claiming the deployment is a breach of its sovereignty, and government figures have regularly participated in protest rallies scheduled outside the Turkish mission in Baghdad.

Art

Qalandiya International: A Multi-City Palestinian Biennial for a Fragmented Territory, by Alyssa Buffenstein
The third edition of Qalandiya International, which aims to put Palestinian art on the contemporary art map, opened on 5 October in eight different cities around the region and abroad. Haifa, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Beirut, Amman, and London all hosted exhibitions and events under the overarching title “The Sea is Mine.” With military checkpoints stationed between exhibition venues, Qi 2016 makes a statement about freedom of mobility just in its choice of geography. This year, Qi’s theme was the idea of the “return,” an undoing of the Nakba. Today, the idea of a Palestinian return takes on new meanings in light the current migrant crisis, putting a new perspective on the reality of long-term refugee camps.

The Anguish and Anger on Gaza’s Walls, by Sarah Algherbawi
The artwork “Besieged Childhood” on a wall of a building (Zafir 9 Tower) in Gaza City depicts a child wearing a keffiyeh scarf, a melancholy expression on her face, her hands wrapped around two bars, like those of a prison cell. The author interviewed one of its creators, Belal Khaled. It was from a desire to convey Gaza’s suffering that the “Besieged Childhood” mural was born, and it was also a “message,” said Khaled, that artists will not be silenced. According to the artist, “Graffiti can spark a revolution. One phrase can energize people. One drawing can move them to demand their rights.”

Israeli Culture Minister Urges City to Cancel Arab Rapper’s Show, by Noa Shpigel
Tensions in Israel's culture sphere escalated again on Sunday when Minister Miri Regev called on the Haifa Municipality to cancel a performance by Israeli Arab rapper, Tamer Nafar, due to what she described as his subversive ideology. Nafar responded in a Facebook post, saying that he has no intention of pulling out of the event. "I understand that the city is under pressure from the culture minister and her gaggle of racists, and it is hoping that I will cancel, but I have no intention of letting them silence me," he wrote.

Events & Conferences

Kurdish Artistic Expression, Resistance, and the State, 17 – 20 November 2016, Middle East Studies Association, Boston, USA.

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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