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DARS Media Roundup (December 2016)

[Painting on Syria by Artist George Butler. Image by Syria Revolution Memory Project, via Flickr] [Painting on Syria by Artist George Butler. Image by Syria Revolution Memory Project, 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

Fighting on All Fronts: Women’s Resistance in Syria, by Leila Al Shami
Women in Syria face numerous challenges yet continue to struggle against fascism, imperialism and patriarchy. Yet with the partial exception of Syrian-Kurdish women in the north, they are absent from mainstream narratives on Syria, relegated invisible by the focus on military struggle, a male hegemonic domain. Syrian women play an essential role in the civil resistance and in community organizing. But they have received little support from western feminists or a left which prefers to see them as victims rather than the strong revolutionaries they are. The problem, of course, lies with western feminists and the left, not with Syrian women.

Forsaking the Syrian Revolution: An Anti-Imperialist Handbook, by Fadi A. Bardawil
In this piece, Fadi A. Bardawil provides a critique of the Left in the Metropoles for their stand in regards to the Syrian struggle for emancipation.

And Who Are We to Say That the Syrian Revolution Is Dead?, by Malak Chabkoun
Declaring the Syrian revolution dead reduces it - and all the sacrifices Syrians have made - to a military conflict, and once again plays directly into the narratives of despots and dictators in the Arab world who treated the Arab Spring as their personal invitation to further destroy their own peoples.

“Russia, Get Out of Syria:” Thousands Join Protest on Turkey Border, by Middle East Eye
Thousands of people protested at the Turkish border on 17 December against a siege of Syria's second city of Aleppo that has prevented deliveries of much-needed aid. The crowds arrived in bus and car convoys from across the country under the slogan "Open the Way for Aleppo" close to Turkey's Cilvegozu border gate, which has become a key hub for transporting the wounded from Aleppo. The action was organised by the Turkish charity Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

Yemen War: Women Play Growing Role for Anti-Houthi Forces, by Nasser Al-Sakkaf
In September 2015, the Popular Resistance in Taiz began recruiting women. In spite of the conservative nature of society, many women are standing at checkpoints all day to inspect female passengers, as part of their resistance struggle for liberation. Here is an interview with one of these women.

Egypt Arrests Twelve Over Island Transfer Protests, by Middle East Monitor
Egyptian police arrester twelve people involved in a protest against the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia that was approved on 29 December 2016. The arrests were made on January 3, around the Journalists’ Union building in central Cairo where dozens of people, including lawyers and journalists gathered to demonstrate.

Egyptian Judge Orders Fifteen-Day Detention of Anti-Red Sea Island Deal Protests, by Ahram Online
An Egyptian judge ordered the fifteen-day detention pending investigation of twelve people for illegally protesting against the cabinet’s approval of the Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea island deal. The defendants are accused of illegal protesting, assaulting public officials, thuggery, illegal assembly, damaging public property and blocking traffic. A number of Egyptian political parties and coalitions have called for a protest on 11 January against the agreement in front of the cabinet's headquarters in Cairo. 

While A Bad Year for Civil Society, All Vow to Find Ways to Continue, by Lina Attalah
Between bills, court cases and security measures, civil society groups in Egypt have been bearing the brunt of state repression. Yet, for many of them, the question is not whether to continue but how. Lina Attalah interviews representatives of several civil society groups that are determined to carry on their work, despite the increasingly restrictive environment.

To Cope or to Resist: How People Deal with Abruptly Deteriorating Economic Conditions, by Lina Attalah, Naira Antoun, Reem Saad and Yasmine M. Ahmed
In this conversation, anthropologists Reem Saad and Yasmine Moataz speak with Mada Masr’s politics and society editors Lina Attalah and Naira Antoun about their research into the history of Egyptian rural communities’ responses and suffering in the face of hardship induced by economic repression. In particular, they look at how people survived through deteriorating economic conditions, and at which points these conditions were met with resistance.

Six Nubian Activists Briefly Detained for Protesting New Presidential Decree Over Land, by Mada MasrSix Nubian activists were briefly detained on 2 January for protesting against a new presidential decree regarding land ownership in the Nubian West Aswan village. The decree, issued in November, stipulates the confiscation of land designated for a new tourist road by Aswan New City Council. It is a “new wave of forced evictions” of Nubian families and communities in the area, according to lawyer Mohamed Azmy.

Number of Imprisoned Journalists Reaches Global High, Egypt Third Worst Offender, by Mada Masr
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 2016 has seen a record number of journalists jailed worldwide, marking the worst year on record with an unprecedented 259 behind bars. Egypt is listed as the third worst offender with 25 journalists in jail, preceded by China with 38 and Turkey with 81.

Facebook Closes Accounts of Palestinian Activists, by Middle East Monitor
Facebook has closed the accounts of a number of Palestinian activists after using a hashtag lamenting a Palestinian assassinated by Israel 20 years ago, according to Quds Press.

Meanwhile, a controversial new bill that could allow local courts to force social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to immediately remove content deemed as incitement, received its first reading in the Knesset on 3 December. The Removal of Terror-Inciting Content from Social Media bill, also known as the "Facebook bill," passed a Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote on Sunday (25 December) and would apply to content that "call for an act of violence or terrorism.”

Palestine Solidarity Campaign to Challenge the British Government’s Decision on B.D.S., by Vyara Gylsen
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is taking the government to court over it's decision to restrict Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from divesting from companies involved in human rights abuses in Israel. The government initially announced it's proposal to block local councils in England and Wales from deciding how to invest their pension funds in November, 2015. The decision restricts Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) from disinvesting in certain areas relating to UK foreign and defence policy. The plan came into force on 1st November 2016. 

University of Manchester Students’ Union Backs B.D.S., by Alex Whitcomb
The Students’ Union’s final Senate meeting of the year passed one of their most hotly debated motions to date, as the delegates voted to officially endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in front of a packed and vocal audience.

What Were the Top Ten B.D.S. Victories for 2016?, by Nora Barrows-Friedman
Here are the top ten B.D.S. successes of 2016, as covered by The Electronic Intifada.


Emerging from ‘The Kingdom of Silence’ | Beyond Institutions in Revolutionary Syria, by Leila Al-Shami
Under the four-decade dictatorship of the Assad family, the arts in Syria were stifled. The totalitarian police state ruthlessly suppressed the expression of dissent and the public space was tightly controlled. The country was, according to leftist dissident Riad al-Turk, 'a kingdom of silence'. […] In 2011 a revolution broke out and Syrians found their voice. […] Almost six years later, an initially peaceful uprising has mutated into violent conflict, a battle of competing authoritarianisms, and a site where various external powers vie for dominance. Yet as the media became dominated by stories of up to half a million killed, the rise of Islamic extremism, or the humanitarian crisis, Syrians continued to respond creatively, reclaiming their right to narrate. Against all odds, the profound and ongoing cultural revolution shows that Syrians refuse to be silenced. 

Digitalizing Social Change through Cultural Institutions in Saudi Arabia, by Wided RIhana Khadraoui
Cultural institutions are more relevant and accessible than ever before. In Saudi Arabia cultural institutions using online innovations and alternative platforms have promoted unprecedented level of inclusivity and development. Cultural institutions are expanding their reach and engaging on a grassroots level in the development of the country's creative scene. 

Events & Conferences

Book Launch: Revolution and Authoritarianism in North Africa, 16 January 2017, London School of Economics, London, UK.

Understanding Protest Environments Beyond Opportunity and Threat, 2 February 2017, King’s College, London, UK.

Labour Mobilization in Egypt After the 25th January Revolution, 7 February 2017, King’s College, London, UK.

What Can Theories of Contentious Politics Tell Us About the “Arab Spring” and Vice Versa? 14 February 2017, King’s College, London, UK.

Revolution and Authoritarianism in North Africa, 13 March 2017, King’s College, London, UK. 

Hanan Toukan - Starting the Revolution from a Different Place: Art, Protest, and Diplomacy in the Arab World, 8 March 2017, Watson Institute, Brown University, Rhode Island, USA> 

International Workshop “Social Movements & Contentious Politics in the Arab World: Diffusion, Practices, Organisations, and Political Dimensions,” 27-28 April 2017, Université Paris-Dauphine, Paris, France. (Deadline for Proposals: 31 January)

A Century of Youth Engaging Politics in the Arab World Conference, 16 – 19 May 2017, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada.



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