[This is a bi-weekly 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 bi-weekly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every second week.]
News & Commentary
Trouble in Paradise, by Slavoj Žižek
We know why people are protesting in Greece or Spain; but why is there trouble in such prosperous or fast-developing countries as Turkey, Sweden or Brazil? With hindsight, we might see the Khomeini revolution of 1979 as the original ‘trouble in paradise’, given that it happened in a country that was on the fast-track of pro-Western modernisation, and the West’s staunchest ally in the region. Maybe there is something wrong with our notion of paradise.
Egypt, Brazil, Turkey: Without Politics, Protest Is At The Mercy Of The Elites, by Seumas Milne
Egypt`s latest eruption has immediately followed mass protests in Turkey and Brazil (as well as smaller upheavals in Bulgaria and Indonesia). None has mirrored the all-out struggle for power in Egypt, even if some demonstrators in Turkey called for the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to go. But there are significant echoes that highlight both the power and weakness of such flash demonstrations of popular anger.
In Egypt, We Thought Democracy Was Enough. It Was Not, by Ahdaf Soueif
The Brotherhood says that when Egyptians elected Morsi, they entered into an unbreakable contract to keep him for four years. The protesters say he was elected on a stated commitment to the goals of the revolution and promises he made, and that he`s broken every one of those. So Morsi has broken his contract with the electorate.
The New Memes of The Egyptian Revolution, by Emanuelle Degli Esposti
The mass protests sweeping across Egypt for the past few days have constituted the largest popular uprising in the country’s history. While comparisons to the events of the Arab Spring are certainly easy to draw, there are important differences between what is happening now and what happened two years ago.
In The Shadow of Tahrir, Taksim Simmers, by Souad Mekhennet
Sarisülük and Leila have joined thousands of their countrymen and women in the streets because they want to show the world that Erdogan and his AKP Party is no longer a model for Turkey’s future. Their message resonates with those of the activists who called for the Muslim Brotherhood’s removal in Egypt, and it poses a tricky question for the West: What happens when a leader has been elected democratically, but uses his position to silence opponents, oppress free speech, and cut off the rights of women and minorities?
Tear Gas Is A Symptom Of Turkey’s Weak Democracy, by Claire Berlinski
When police attack, the crowds run up my street trailed by cops and tear gas. Like everyone in my neighbourhood, I’m now able to tell exactly what lachrymatory agent they’re using. The tear gas, however, is the symptom. The “democratic deficits” are the disease. The conventional wisdom is that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not understand the full meaning of “democracy,” believing that having won several elections, he is now a monarch. Partly correct. But the problems are deeper still, and even Mr. Erdogan’s megalomania is just a symptom of this disease.
After Protests, Forums Sprout in Turkey’s Parks, by Sebnem Arsu
The recent anti-government riots, which began with a sit-in at an Istanbul park scheduled for demolition and grew to encompass the grievances of millions of Turks disillusioned with their government, have largely faded after an intense crackdown about three weeks ago. Now, Turkey’s parks have become safe places to gather and speak freely, with people arriving each evening in dozens of parks nationwide to discuss what happens next.
A Map of Non-Violent Activism in Syria, by Kristyan Benedict
A Syrian activist, Omar al Assil, has recently produced a beautiful, interactive map of non-violent resistance in Syria. It was created with his colleagues in the Syrian Non Violence Movement including their members inside Syria.
Image Rights in Bahrain, by Chloe Kems
Anonymous amateur photographers document the Bahraini revolution in all its forms. Photos have become a potent—and efficient—tool for frontline activists, who are able to quickly publish their shots online thanks to new technology. Despite public appearances, many of these young photographers are women and their shots are instrumental in documenting Bahrain’s revolution.
A Lethal “Non-Lethal” Weapon, by Shiar Youssef
With tear gas a prominent weapon used to repress the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the multi-billion global market has been expanding. Reported incidents of tear gas-related deaths and injuries have prompted critique of its classification as `non-lethal` and renewed calls for a ban on its use.
“Best Arabic Blog” Winner Tackles Extremism, by Jemal Oumar
In this interview, the new winner of the 2013 Deutsche Welle award for "Best Arabic Blog", young Mauritanian activist Ahmed Ould Jedou, talks about the biggest danger lurking online and how the internet can be a vehicle for positive change.
New Tunisian Protest Movement To Mirror Egypt’s Tamarod Campaign, by Reuters
Tunisian opposition activists have launched their own version of Egypt`s Tamarod protest movement. The youthful, little known leaders of Tunisian Tamarod (Rebel) hope to galvanise opposition to their own Islamist-led government which, like Mursi, came to power after an uprising in 2011 swept an autocratic leader from office.
This Moving Street Art Helped Topple A Dictator During The Arab Spring, by Zak Stone
Politically charged street art is a tradition dating back to antiquity in Egypt, but a soon-to-be-published book, Walls of Freedom: Street Art of the Egyptian Revolution, documents the ways that the Arab Spring breathed new light into the medium, turning it into a tool to fight the country’s corrupt political system, both during and in the aftermath of the revolution.
Egyptian Filmmaker Tahani Rached Spotlights Social Justice Issues, by Adham Youssef
Rached, as an Egyptian who lived aboard, heard about the diversity of ideological affiliations that took place in some Egyptian circles. She got the idea of "tolerance dispute of diversity," and wanted to present it with real life models. "I heard primitive ideas about Arabs, Islam, and Egypt, and I also heard about the diversity that extended to cases of having for example a communist and an Islamist in one family," Rached explained. However, instead of featuring a family, she decided to choose a group of friends that translated that idea.
“The Queue” by Basma Abdel-Aziz, by Elisabeth Jaquette
In her debut novel, Basma Abdel Aziz constructs a dystopic vision of Egypt – yet one not far from current reality. It illuminates how absolute authority distorts reality, mobilizes others in its service through fear and manipulation, and fails to uphold the rights of even those faithful to it. Written in subtle dark humor, it offers a brilliant and timely portrait of the sinister nature of authoritarianism.
Turkey: Art and Upheaval, by Defne Ayas and Nato Thompson
Early in June, as demonstrations spread throughout Turkey following the repression of protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson emailed Turkish curator Defne Ayas about the upheaval. Ayas, who is now Director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, has organized several landmark projects aimed at bringing provocative art and performance into the public sphere. The conversation tracks the unpredictable momentum of the uprising, and its many connections—both social and aesthetic—to the art world.
Taner Ceylan Interview: Turkish Artist Talks Gezi Park, Homoerotica and Hyperrealism, by Katherine Brooks
Taner Ceylan`s works are undeniably contemporary, touching on themes of Orientalism, queer culture and Turkish nationalism. Erotic as they are hyperreal, his canvases are dominated by gazing subjects; male lovers and transgressive females who defiantly return the viewer`s gaze. Ceylan will be venturing from his hometown of Istanbul to New York this fall for an exhibit titled "Lost Paintings" at Paul Kasmin Gallery.
Jordanian Filmmaker Tracks a Transgender’s Recovery, by Alana Chloe Esposito
Maryam Jum`a, a 26-year-old Jordanian filmmaker is working on a film about a 32-year-old woman diagnosed with gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder, when there`s a conflict between a person`s physical gender and the gender he or she identifies as. The woman at the center of the film, Manal, has mustered the courage to speak out publicly in hopes that her story will prevent or alleviate others` suffering.
Conferences & Events
Middle East Studies Center Summer Institute: The Arab Uprisings, 12-14 July 2013, Portland State University, USA
Summer School on Democratization and Political Transitions in the Arab World: Actors, Challenges, and Policy Options for the EU, 17-19 July 2013, University of Minho, Portugal
Representation, Politics and Violence, 11-13 September 2013, Brighton, UK
Revolt and Revolution, 4-6 November 2013, Athens, Greece