[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
Arab Springs, Arab Falls, by Ian Black
A review of Toby Matthiesen’s new book Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring that Wasn’t. This study demonstrates how the Saudies, Bahrain and Kuwait have all combined repression and cash handouts with an almost instinctive sectarianism to keep demands for reform at bay. Matthiesen does not predict that any of the Guld regimes face collapse any time soon. Nor does he use the fashionable and superficial labels of Twitter or Facebook revolutions, arguing that brute force can be more effective than even the smartest digital technology.
Three-Way Conversation in Istanbul, by Annalena Di Giovanni, Sameh Naguib, Souheil Idoudi, and Foti Benlisoy
Members of resistance movements from Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia come together on Gezi Radyo to compare experiences, discuss ways to cooperate and debate how to build a better future. In this first part of their conversation they reflect on how the rulers of their respective countries are misrepresenting the protests in which they are each involved in the key struggle to win the hearts and minds of the national majority; how to go beyond the polarized ‘war on culture’ between Islamists and secularists; how to cooperate; and what to do to advance the social and economic demands in each situation, building on strikes, strengthening relationships between labour unions and unemployed and precarious youth.
Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ Wins German Award, by Al Jazeera
Erdem Gunduz, who gained international fame with his passive protest during Gezi Park protests, wins M100 Media Award. The M100 award is presented annually to someone who panellists believe has helped safeguard freedom of expression and promoted democracy.
Istanbul Protests: Police Block Gezi Park As Peace Demonstrations Erupt, by Agence France Press
Turkish police Sunday blocked the entrance to Istanbul`s Gezi Park, the epicentre of anti-government protests in June, to prevent a demonstration against a possible military intervention in Syria. Riot police advanced with shields but held back from using tear gas or water cannons against about 1,000 activists who instead formed a human chain on the city`s celebrated Istiklal Avenue. "United States, killers, stay out of Syria," shouted protesters, who are firmly opposed to Ankara`s support for proposed US-led air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Turkey’s Stairway to A Democratic Heaven, by Emre Kizilkaya
The crumbling, concrete street stairs in an Istanbul alley have become the latest battleground for the colorful pluralism of society and the “gray” authoritarianism of politicians in Turkey. Turkish retiree Huseyin Cetinel recently found himself as an accidental hero of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community after painting all 145 steps of the street stairs in the pattern of a rainbow, unknowingly creating a giant gay flag. Less than a week later, Cetinel awoke to find that the stairs were gray again. The tension between Turkey`s multilayered, polyphonic society and the unilateral, black-and-white state seems to be approaching critical mass. Civilians of all colors feel stronger against the state of the gray now.
Egypt: The Need for Civil Society Mobilization, by Tariq Ramadan
The situation in Egypt is growing worse by the day and by the hour. Anything can happen. Even though the threat of civil war has yet to materialize, we must take all possible outcomes into account and act accordingly. It appears that the power structure — civilian and military — disagree on strategy. Civil society must today make its voice heard, and must reject the lie that the Armed Forces are arrayed against the Islamists alone. What is at stake is the democratic future of Egypt, something that the Armed Forces can never protect. Civil society must examine its past errors and work together to find a way out of the crisis. To be a passive, non-violent observer of violence is indirectly to choose violence.
Revolutionary Egypt: The Worst of Times, the Best of Times, by Matt Meyer
The current chain of events in Egypt was sparked by the largest demonstration in history: upwards of 30 million people or more throughout the streets of every major city and town. The sheer vast numbers are unquestionable; a huge percentage of the population proclaimed on June 30 that Mohamed Morsi’s eighteen months as President had been a striking set-back to the unfinished unarmed revolution of 2011. These numbers defy the claim of outside agitation. What should matter most to respectful outside observers is the fact that the Egyptian people are mobilized for action, action at very least against dictatorship and fundamentalism. Mobilization on this scale is, to borrow a phrase, exactly what democracy looks like.
In Egypt’s Political Turmoil, Middle Ground Is the Loneliest, by Leila Fadel
Some of the young revolutionaries who led the 2011 uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak feel they are back to square one, battling authoritarian forces on both sides. Young revolutionary activists will wait. One, Ahmed Maher, is reaching out to other parties — writers and politicians who reject the authoritarianism of both the Islamists and the military. And soon, he says, it will be our time again.
Signs of a Shift Among Egyptian Protesters to Antigovernment, From Pro-Morsi, by David Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim
The continuing protests against the military takeover in Egypt showed signs on Friday of shifting into a movement against the authoritarian tactics of the new government rather than one demanding the return of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi. Any expansion of the protests’ base would be a significant setback for the new government. It has so far enjoyed considerable support for its crackdown on Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, whom it describes as violence-prone extremists. As tens of thousands gathered in the streets of Cairo for the ninth Friday of protests against the takeover, few carried the posters of Mr. Morsi’s face that were once the banner of the Brotherhood’s “anti-coup” coalition.
Palestinian Farm Dodges Israeli Bulldozers – in Treehouses, by Andrew Beale
Mazen Saadeh faces a problem. In trying to expand the facilities of the campground and restaurant he manages in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, he risks attracting the attention of the Israeli authorities tasked with halting Palestinian construction. The cooperative farm and tourist destination that Saadeh manages is located in the West Bank`s Area C, which means it lies on Palestinian land under complete Israeli civil and military control which means it could be demolished by Israeli forces. In response, Saadeh has come up with a unique solution: Since building on the land is prohibited, he builds in the trees.
East Jerusalem Leadership Protests Israeli Curricula, by Lea Frehse
At the start of the new school year, the decision by five East Jerusalem schools to introduce the Israeli curriculum has provoked outspoken opposition from the Palestinian public in the city. On 2 September, key figures of Palestinian leadership assembled in East Jerusalem for a press conference to denounce the step. The meeting was called for by the National Action Coalition and brought together representatives of civil society, among them the head of East Jerusalem’s Parents Committee and the Mufti of Jerusalem.
Ongoing Political Deadlock Spurs Iraqi Civil Activists, by Mazen al-Zeidi
Iraq is witnessing a significant rise of independent civil movements. In February 2011, demonstrations raising the slogan of fighting corruption and reforming the system were staged. However, the government`s security forces responded to these demonstrations with severe repression, while the Prime Minister`s opponents on the other side remained silent, merely observing. Regardless of the attempts of many political parties to join the civil movement and exploit it for sectarian and partisan interests, this movement has begun to grow mature in an attempt to propose a third alternative that does not belong to the duality of Maliki and his rivals. This was implemented through the launching of national campaigns aiming to intensify the public monitoring of the performance of political elites.
Hundreds of Iraqis Protest Against Lawmaker Privileges, by Reuters
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Baghdad and central and southern Iraq on Saturday against generous pension payments to lawmakers in a county where many are still struggling to get jobs and basic services. The protests marked widespread anger at the monthly payments of thousands of dollars and other benefits to government and parliamentary officials. Distracted by sectarian attacks and political feuding, the government has done little to improve education, housing and other infrastructure.
Thousands of Bahrainis March Peacefully for Democratic Reforms, by Farishta Saeed
Thousands of Bahrainis were allowed to march peacefully outside Manama calling for democratic reforms on 23 August, 10 days after police cracked down on scattered protests organized by an online group inspired by recent demonstrations in Egypt. Waving Bahrain`s red and white flag and carrying pictures of political prisoners, the protesters denounced King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa and Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa. "Down with Hamad," they chanted.
Tunisia Anti-Government Rallies Demand Regime Change, by BBC
On 24 August, thousands of Tunisians rallied in front of the National Assembly in the capital Tunis calling for the Islamist-led government to resign. The opposition National Salvation Front has called for a week of protests over what it says is the government`s inability to guarantee security. The protests come a month after the assassination of a prominent opposition politician. The governing Ennahda party has offered to support an all-party government but has ruled out calls to dissolve the constituent assembly or remove Prime Minister Ali Laaraiedh.
‘I Say Yemen, You Say…’ A Word Association Test, by Abubakr Al Shamahi
People have been quick to forget, but in Yemen’s yearlong uprising against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, very few members of the opposition picked up guns in their attempt to overthrow the government, and the sit-ins across the country were packed with peaceful demonstrators, cultural events and educational talks. The youth movement has also continued its attempts to achieve political change through peaceful means. Anti-drone activism and hunger strikes to campaign for the release of political prisoners, or the continued dominance of the old elite, have defied stereotypes and eschewed violence.
Morocco: Sit-In to Denounce Moroccan Military Wall in Western Sahara, by Sahara Press Service
Authorities of the Wilaya of Smara organized Friday a demonstration in Oum Legta region in the liberated territory of Bir Lehlou to denounce the Moroccan wall of shame in Western Sahara. The participants "strongly deplored" this military wall which constitutes a crime against humanity, calling on the international community to "urgently act" to remove it. They also asked the UN and Security Council to work in favor of putting an end to the suffering of Saharawi people, by conducting a free, just, impartial and transparent referendum ensuring the rights of the Saharawi people to freedom and independence.
Empower Thousands of Bedouin to Stop Demolitions
A fundraising campaign organized by Adalah to stop the ongoing forced displacement of the Bedouin.
Activists Launch Campaign for Egyptian Workers Demands, by Ahram Online
Setting a wages ceiling and baseline, and rights to organize in free unions, are among Egyptian workers; main demands, as set out in a new campaign recently launched. The campaign, which hails from Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists movement and the Egyptian Federation for Independent Trade Unions, has listed 16 main demands shared by workers nationwide to be met by the regime.
Intervals: Art Against Occupation and For Legal Defense, by International Institute for Nonviolent Action
A group of activists from Coalition of Women for Peace and Anarchists Against the Wall held an exhibition of works donated by Israeli and Palestinian artists aiming to fund legal defense.
Revolution and Desire, by Joobin Bekhrad
An interview with Beirut-based film and art curator Rasha Salti about her selection of some of the finest films from the Arab region for the Toronto International Film Festival and how some of these deal with the ‘Arab Spring.’
Resistance and Art: Call for Papers
This is a call for papers for a BRISMES graduate mini-conference entitled “Art and Resistance in the Middle East: History and Change” that will take place on Saturday 16th November 2013 at the University of Edinburgh.
Conferences & Events
Sustaining the Momentum of the Arab Spring – Young People Face the Challenges of Re-Building Their Society, 1-10 September 2013, Sfax and Tunis, Tunisia
Spaces of Liberation, 12 September 2013, Berkeley, California, USA
Representation, Politics and Violence, 11-13 September 2013, Brighton, UK
Iraqi Social Forum, 26-28 September 2013, Baghdad, Iraq
Contentious Politics in the Middle East, LSE Middle East Centre, London, UK
Revolt and Revolution, 4-6 November 2013, Athens, Greece
Art and Resistance in the Middle East: History and Change, 16 November 2013, University of Edinburgh, UK